Before you ever get around to filing, cybercriminals have been gearing up for this time of year for a while now in hopes of stealing your refund.
One primary concern is the sheer amount of data breaches from outside the tax system exposing the personal information of millions of Americans, such as names, Social Security numbers and addresses. This means identity thieves have been able to gather these datasets across the dark web and file ahead of you.
One of the most important steps in thwarting this crime is filing as early as possible, basically beating a criminal to it. This may be especially important for consumers who know their PII has been illegally accessed in the past, such as in a data breach, previous identity theft issue, or other similar circumstances.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) want all consumers to understand the nature of this crime, as well as take action to reduce the chance of it happening to them. Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifiable information to file a tax return in your name. Using falsified income and deduction amounts, they can reap a hefty payout and have it deposited onto an untraceable prepaid debit card. Once that happens, the victim’s legitimate return gets flagged as a duplicate return, causing serious delay in filing correctly and receiving any refunds that are owed.
As filing for 2019 taxes begins Jan 31, Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week will take place from February 3rd-7th, 2020 and will feature a number of opportunities for the public to learn about the crime. There will also be great takeaways so participants can help spread the word to friends, family members, co-workers, and their communities.
Register for our Tax Identity Theft Webinars
These free events will be focused on tax identity theft, which includes how to protect yourself and your business.
Part 1: Tax Identity Theft and the Victim Impact Monday, February 3rd at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
Kickoff Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week and learn all about the warning signs of tax identity theft, how it happens and the victim impact.
Part 2: Government Imposter Scams Thursday, February 6th at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
An imposter scam occurs when a criminal uses a false identity or persona to trap you. It might be someone pretending to be the IRS, Social Security Administration, or other government entity. Using this false persona, the criminal alerts you to some plausible reason why you must pay money or face a consequence of some kind.
Join the #IDTheftChat on Twitter Thursday, February 6th, 2020
You’re also invited to join an exclusive tax-related #IDTheftChat on Twitter. The FTC & ITRC will discuss the importance of protecting yourself against tax-related identity theft happening on February 6th at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT.
To join the conversation that day, simply search for the #IDTheftChat hashtag on Twitter, and be sure to add the #IDTheftChat hashtag to the end of all your comments or questions in order to be a part of the discussion.
For more questions about tax identity theft, read our tips here.
Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.