7 Tips to Prevent Tax ID Fraud
February 1, 2017
As the 2017 tax season gets underway, Salisbury Bank is urging all customers to take extra precaution when filing their return to prevent exposure to tax fraud.
“Fraudsters are using very clever tactics to gain personal information and submit false tax claims,” said Julianna Sinchak, AVP, Marketing and Sales Administration Manager. “Consumers should be suspicious of any communication from the IRS that requests personal or financial information via email, text or social media, and should keep a watchful eye out for missing W-2s and mail containing sensitive financial information.”
Tax identity fraud takes place when a criminal files a false tax return using a stolen social security number in order to claim the refund. Identity thieves generally file false claims early in the year and victims are unaware until they file a return and learn one has already been filed in their name.
To help consumers prevent tax ID fraud, Salisbury Bank is offering the following tips:
File early. File your tax return as soon as you’re able giving criminals less time to use your information to file a false return.
File on a protected Wi-Fi network. If you’re using an online service to file your return, be sure you’re connected to a password-protected personal network. Avoid using public networks like a Wi-Fi hotspot at a coffee shop.
Use a secure mailbox. If you’re filing by mail, drop your tax return at the post office or an official postal box instead of your mailbox at home. Some criminals look for completed tax return forms in home mailboxes during tax season.
Find a tax preparer you trust. If you’re planning to hire someone to do your taxes, get recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before handing over all of your financial information.
Shred documents no longer needed. Once you’ve completed your tax return, shred the sensitive documents that you no longer need and safely file away the ones you do.
Beware of phishing scams by email, text or phone. Scammers may try to solicit sensitive information by impersonating the IRS. Know that the IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. The IRS does not call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail first.
Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for W-2s, tax refunds or other mail containing your financial information. If you have not received your W-2, and your employer indicates it has been mailed, or if it looks like your W-2 has been previously opened upon delivery, contact the IRS immediately.
If you believe you’re a victim of tax identity theft or if the IRS denies your tax return because one has previously been filed under your name, alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. In addition, you should:
Respond immediately to any IRS notice and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
Contact your bank immediately and close any accounts opened without your permission or any accounts that may have been tampered with.
Contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records:
Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285
Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.
More information about tax identity theft is available from the FTC at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and the IRS at irs.gov/identitytheft.
Salisbury Bank is a full-service community bank headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut and presently operates full service branches in Canaan, Lakeville, Salisbury and Sharon, Connecticut; Great Barrington, Sheffield and South Egremont, Massachusetts; as well as Dover Plains, Fishkill, Millerton, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Red Oaks Mill, New York. The Bank has been serving families and businesses for over 160 years and offers a full range of consumer and business banking products and services as well as trust and investment services.