About 1 in every 16 people living in the United States has been a victim of identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s identity information like their names, social security number (SSN), or credit card number without the other persons consent. USA today announced that “identity theft soared during 2016 and in fact, it has hit an all-time high.”
The issue of identity theft has been a focal point for the IRS(Internal Revenue Services) since tax payers have too many times been victims of tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. As you may have guessed, a tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return to benefit on a fraudulent refund. To stop these tax-related identity theft, the IRS has assigned more than 3,000 employees to work on identity theft-related issues, and provides its 35,000+ employees training on how to detect identity theft.
The IRS is working hard to prevent identity theft and has stopped 14.6 million suspicious returns and protected over $50 billion in fraudulent returns. One of the steps they take is by calling tax payers to verify some questions they have on tax returns or refund amounts. The doing of this process is not to alarm any tax payer of fraud but to be proactive, if any fraudulent act was taken. It might sound like a simply task but it is a very effective way to find out if theft has occurred.
What can you do as Taxpayer?
If you are an e-filer, do your research. Search the internet, find out if the website you are thinking to use, has not been hacked or is a scam to get your personal information. If you are not an e-filer, and use a tax consultant, make sure files can not be easily stolen or seen. Also, keep your information hidden from others who do not need to know your personal information.
On the IRS website, it states that red flags should go up if any of the following occur:
- More than one tax return was filed using your SSN
- You owe additional taxes, or refund offsets on years you have not filed.
- IRS records show that you have received wages from an employer you did not work for.
If you have been a victim of tax-related identity theft, contact the IRS.