Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. It is estimated identify fraud occurs every two seconds, and 56 percent of those victims trace the incident back to private information stolen from their own possession.
With tax season upon us, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) is urging consumers to file their taxes before their refund ends up in the hands of a crook. In 2018, BBB received over 780 reports nationwide via Scam Tracker of identity theft.
“Tax-related identity theft occurs when a scammer uses another person’s social security number to steal their refund,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, President and CEO of BBB of Eastern NC. “Consumers can reduce their risk of becoming a victim of this crime by securing their private information and filing their taxes as soon as possible.”
Signs you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft:
The IRS rejects your return when you attempt to file because your Social Security Number (SSN) has already been used.
You receive a notice from the IRS of showing you received wages from someplace you have never worked.
You receive a letter from the IRS of a balance due, refund offset or have collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a return or receive a refund.
Prevention: Although there is no method for guaranteeing that identity theft will never happen to you, below are tips than can help you minimize your risk:
Carry only the cards you actually need. Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry in your wallet or purse. Do not carry your Social Security card unless you need it.
Keep personal information in a safe place. If you employ outside help or are having service work done in your home, keep your personal information out of sight.
Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use another type of identifying number whenever possible.
This article is sponsored by Mark’s Tax Professionals, located in Aberdeen.