Getting a tax refund is something many taxpayers look forward to, but the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for those seeking to steal that money.
The warning comes during National Tax Identity Theft Week, and features simple steps that taxpayers can take to protect themselves from being victims of identity theft.
“Taxpayers may be wondering if they’ll owe money or get a nice surprise refund, but what should really be on their minds is tax identity theft,” BBB CEO Steve J. Bernas said. “Imagine finishing your return and expecting a refund, only to find someone else has already claimed it.”
In a new press release this week, the BBB outlines steps to help avoid identity theft around tax season, as thieves seek to claim tax refunds for themselves by stealing the PIN numbers of taxpayers.
The first and most important step is for taxpayers to file their returns as soon as they are able to. The IRS has begun accepting tax returns for 2017, and it’s less likely that scammers will be able to file fraudulent returns if taxpayers get their returns filed quickly.
The BBB also advises taxpayers to consider the source of communications from the IRS, as scammers will often use bullying tactics and phone calls to steal information. The IRS always sends written communication first and never threatens or demands immediate action, according to the BBB, and consumers should be wary about any communications they receive.
The bureau also advises consumers to be wary of what information they post on social media, to understand what spam emails look like, and to ask their tax professionals about the cybersecurity protocols they have put in place to protect themselves from intrusion and theft.
Tax returns are due by April 17, according to the IRS.