Most people dread tax season, and the fear of tax identity theft just adds to the stress of preparing your tax return. But, for identity thieves, tax season is a favorite time of year. Why? Because you and millions of other Americans will send confidential information over the Internet, via fax and in the mail. As soon as the New Year celebrations end, your employer begins preparing, filing and mailing W-2, 1099 forms and a slew of other tax forms containing sensitive data.
In 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified over $10 billion in tax and other fraud. Thieves work around the clock to steal your name, social security number, or other personally identifiable information (PII) and file a forged tax return in the hopes of getting a fraudulent refund. Typically, this happens earlier in the filing season.
Unemployment scams have also been lucrative, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic as states experienced overwhelming benefits claims from millions of first-time filers. Many victims of unemployment fraud won’t find out about it until tax forms arrive for benefits they never received.
Identity thieves also target children’s social security numbers, as they are a “clean slate,” and you may be denied a tax credit because your child’s Social Security number has been attached to someone else’s tax return.
Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to identity theft during tax season. Follow these crucial steps to protect yourself, your family, assets and credit.