According to a recent article from the Michigan Attorney General’s Senior Brigade, identity theft has been the top consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for the last 13 years. In connection with the general problem of identity theft, there is a rise in theft linked to tax returns.

In these instances, the thief will obtain a social security number and use it to file a forged tax return. Usually, the return is filed early in the tax season and the victim does not know about the fraud until he files his (later) tax return and the IRS notifies him that they have already paid his refund to the imposter.

The following tips will help you spot, and avoid, tax identity theft:

  1. If you receive any DIGITAL communication claiming to be from the IRS, it is phony. The IRS NEVER uses digital communication to initiate contact with taxpayers. If you receive such a communication, report it immediately to the IRS by forwarding the email, text message or instant message to phishing@irs.gov.
  2. If you think someone used your Social Security number for a tax refund, be proactive and contact the IRS immediately. Don’t wait until you file your tax return to find out that you have been a victim.

For more information on tax identity theft, visit the FTS website.

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