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Tax-related identity crimes are among the fastest-growing offenses in the nation. Learn what the IRS is doing -- and steps you can take -- to help stay protected.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America affecting millions of unsuspecting individuals each year. A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to obtain tax and other financial and personal information about you.
Identity thieves can get your Social Security number by:
Tax-related identity theft occurs when a thief uses your Social Security number to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent tax refund. In 2015 alone, the IRS stopped 1.4 million confirmed identity theft tax returns, protecting $8.7 billion in taxpayer refunds.1 The IRS has become increasingly diligent in its efforts to thwart identity theft with a program of prevention, detection, and victim assistance. The "Taxes. Security. Together." program is aimed at building awareness among taxpayers about the need to protect personal data when conducting business online and in the real world.
Stay Vigilant - By remaining vigilant and following a few commonsense guidelines, you can support the IRS in keeping your personal information safe. Here are a few tips to consider:
Fear You Have Been Scammed? - If you feel you are the victim of tax-related identity theft - e.g., you cannot file your tax return because one was already filed using your Social Security number - there are several steps you should take.
If you have been confirmed as a tax-related identity theft victim, the IRS may issue you a special PIN that you will use when e-filing your taxes. You will receive a new PIN each year.
For more information on tax-related identity theft visit the IRS website, which has a special section devoted to the topic.
1The Internal Revenue Service, "How Identity Theft Can Affect Your Taxes," IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2016-16, August 8, 2016.
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