As identity theft becomes an increasingly large problem in the United States, we’re seeing several government agencies devote additional resources to fight this criminal epidemic. The IRS has set up shop as the official go-to authority on identity-related crimes, with over 3,000 employees working cases on a full-time basis.
If you’re looking to clear your name and credit history after an attack, or you’re interested in doing everything possible to prevent one in the first place, the IRS has a library of information available. To sum up some important points, here are 4 facts from the IRS’ identity theft database that you’ll want to be fully aware of:
1. The IRS Will Never Send Electronic Communications Asking For Your Personal Information
You’ll never get an email, text, tweet, or electronic message of any kind from the IRS that asks you to provide any kind of personal information. Official correspondence will come to you via old-fashioned mail, and if the requested information can be filled out online, you’ll always be directed to an official government website with a “.gov” ending; everything else can safely be assumed to be fraudulent.
2. Groups Posing As The IRS Can Be Reported Immediately Online
The IRS’s anti-phishing page allows you to report any electronic message you receive asking you for sensitive personal info, as well as a host of other possible issues. It’s a good idea to hit them up if you’ve received any kind of suspect material—and if you’ve accidentally replied to any of these messages, you’ll definitely want to let the IRS know right away.
3. Fraudulent Tax Returns Are Increasing Every Year
These occur when someone steals your social security number and then files a tax return on your behalf that’s sent to the attacker, or when someone uses your social security number to get a job and their return gets filed, making it look as if you have income that you didn’t report to the IRS with your legitimate return, which triggers an audit.
Oftentimes, your first warning of this kind of identity theft is after you’ve filed your return, when the IRS informs you that a return has already been filed in your name, or when you’re officially informed of an impending audit. It’s always a good idea to get your taxes done as early in the year as possible, and always be vigilant about where your W-2 forms go, and who has access to them.
4. If You Have Information About An Identity Thief, You Can Report It To the IRS Immediately
While phishing scams and other forms of invasion can certainly be responsible for your personal information getting stolen, many times you may actually know the attacker personally. An acquaintance, co-worker, former business associate, former spouse, or many others may have stolen your identity, and you may be aware of the fact. If that’s the case, you can report the relevant information to the IRS here, at their Internet Crime Complaint Center. They’ll make a formal account of your case and forward it to the law enforcement officials that have the appropriate jurisdiction. Additionally, you’ll get a head start on thwarting your attacker’s spending spree, and letting the IRS know of an identity attack will make it much harder for them to try and file a fraudulent tax return on your behalf.
If you’re looking for a little extra protection from identity theft threats against you or your loved ones, you might want to check out our enhanced identity theft services. Stay safe out there!