It’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is urging Floridians to be especially alert to identity theft and tax-related scams.
Tax identity theft occurs when someone other than the taxpayer:
- Files a fraudulent tax return using a taxpayer’s Social Security number and personal information to receive a tax refund;
· Uses a taxpayer’s Social Security number to get a job fraudulently, causing a victim’s income not to match what has been reported to the IRS; and
· Claims a taxpayer’s child as a dependent fraudulently, preventing that child being rightfully claimed as a dependent on the taxpayer’s annual return.
As Floridians prepare to file annual tax returns this year, they can safeguard against identity theft and tax fraud by following these tips:
- File tax returns early in the tax season;
· Research a tax preparer thoroughly before providing personal information;
· Use a secure internet connection when filing electronically. Do not use unsecure, publicly available Wi-Fi hotspots;
· Mail tax returns directly from the post office, not from home;
· Know that Floridians are eligible for an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS. Should someone enrolled in the IRS IP PIN program and file a return with an incorrect PIN, the IRS will reject or delay the return until it is submitted with the correct PIN and the taxpayer’s identity is confirmed. To obtain an IRS IP PIN IRS.gov;
· Know that the IRS will never initiate contact by email, phone, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will first contact by mail; and
· If a Social Security number has been compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490.
Consumers victimized by identity theft should call local law enforcement. Victims wanting to file a complaint can visit FTCComplaintAssistant.gov. Consumers can also file complaints about tax-related scams and other types of fraud through the Florida Attorney General’s Office.