Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
With the deadline to file taxes on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – the nation’s consumer protection agency – is offering tips on how to avoid tax identity theft scams that steal personal data and money based on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.
In one scenario outlined by the FTC, tax identity thieves file a fake tax return, have the refund deposited into the tax payer’s bank, then contact the owner of the account posing as the IRS or debt collectors and demand the return of the money to them. The FTC has the following tips to fight tax identity theft:
- File the tax return early in the tax season if possible.
- Use a secure internet connection if filing taxes electronically or mail tax returns directly from the post office.
- Look for the tax preparer identification number when using an online tax preparation service since the IRS requires all paid tax preparers to have one before filing any returns.
- Determine if a website is encrypted by looking for “https” (the “s” is for secure) at the start of the web address. Look for “https” on every page visited, not just during sign in.
- Ask tax preparers about their data security policies, and how they protect information.
- Respond to all mail from the IRS as soon as possible.
- If tax identity theft occurs, the victim should report it to the FTC at visit identitytheft.gov, file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS electronically, and get a personal recovery plan.
Tax identity theft scams should be reported at ftc.gov/complaint. The reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring crooks to justice. The tips from the FTC on how to avoid tax identity theft scams are at www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/03/watch-out-these-new-tax-scams.
Tax Day is Tuesday, April 17, 2018 – instead of the traditional April 15 date – because April 15 falls on a Sunday, which moves the filing deadline to Monday, April 16, Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, which pushes the filing deadline to Tuesday, April 17, 2018, according to the IRS.
In March 2018, the FTC released the 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book showing the number of consumer complaints about fraud dropped from 2.98 million from 2016 to 2.68 million in 2017, while the amount of money lost from fraud rose to $905 million in 2017, $63 million more than in 2016.
In January 2018, ESR News reported that the FTC hosted Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week from Monday, January 29, 2018, to Friday, February 2, 2018, with a series of free events to help consumers and businesses reduce their chances of becoming tax identity theft victims.
More ESR News Blogs about Identity Theft
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