As we approach tax season, Village Bank wants to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself against tax identity theft.
Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your social security number to get a tax refund or a job. You may not even know that you’ve been targeted until you receive a letter from the IRS noting that more than one tax return was filed in your name or IRS records show that you have wages from an employer you don’t work for, you owe additional tax or have a refund offset, or have had collections actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
In honor of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on what you can do to prevent Tax Identity Theft and what to do if you suspect you are already a victim:
Tip #1: File early in the tax season to get your refund before identity thieves do. When you file, make sure you use a secure internet connection or mail your tax return directly from the post office to make it more difficult for thieves to get their hands on your personal information.
If you think your Social Security number has been stolen or you get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, call the IRS Identity Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. If you are a tax identity theft victim, the IRS may give you a personal PIN number to verify your identity and protect your file going forward.
Tax scammers posing as the IRS may call and say you owe taxes, or threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay with a prepaid debit card or credit card. They might know some information about you, and they can rig caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone. If the IRS needs to contact you, they will first do so by mail. If you have any doubts, call the IRS directly.
Tip #2: Always protect your Social Security number or Medicare card number: don’t give them out unless you have to, and always ask why it’s needed, how it’s going to be used, and how it will be stored.
Tip #3: Shred old taxes returns you’re no longer required to keep, as well as draft returns, extra copies and calculation sheets.
Tip #4: Ask for recommendations and research tax preparers before you turn your personal information over to them.
Tip #5: Be proactive: We offer ID TheftSmart™, a service that gives you access to a team of licensed private investigators that help protect, detect and restore your identity.