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Protect yourself from identity theft this tax season

New IdentityTheft Scam

Image courtesy MGN Online.

MADISON (WLUK) — As tax season kicks off, be aware of identity theft.

State consumer protection officials say tax identity theft was a factor in 75 percent of identity theft complaints filed in 2016.

Those who have problems while trying to file tax returns may be victims of identity theft. Here are some indications of tax identity theft:

  • Multiple returns were filed under a taxpayer’s Social Security number
  • A taxpayer receives a letter or refund check regarding a return he or she did not file
  • A taxpayer owes additional taxes or is facing collection actions for a year he or she did not file a return

Before filing, Wisconsin taxpayers can check online to see if a return has already been filed in their name. Tax experts recommend filing early to head off identity theft attempts.

“The best way to protect yourself from the risk of tax identity theft is to keep your financial and personally identifiable information (such as your Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank account numbers, etc.) under lock and key throughout the year,” Michelle Reinen, Director of the state Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a news release.

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection recommends these steps taxpayers can take to protect themselves when filing taxes:

  • If filing a return online, make sure the computer’s operating system and antivirus software are up to date and set up strong passwords for tax software login.
  • If working with a tax preparation service and see any questionable practices, report the suspicious behavior to DATCP.
  • Questionable practices might include tax returns being filed on a taxpayer’s behalf without consent, not receiving copies of documents that the taxpayer signed, or not receiving copies of documents that identify the terms of a transition.

DATCP also recommends these steps to protect information during the year:

  • Limit the personal details shared online.
  • Avoid giving out sensitive information in response to unsolicited calls, emails or text messages.
  • Shred unnecessary documents that contain personal information.
  • Don’t carry cards containing sensitive details like Social Security or Medicare numbers unless the cards are specifically needed (for an appointment, for example).
  • The IRS, United States Treasury and Wisconsin Department of Revenue will never call and threaten arrest or legal action about back taxes. Any phone calls of this nature are scams.
  • Use online security best practices:
  • Learn how to recognize phishing emails and text messages.
  • Never click on links that could redirect to imposter websites that appear legitimate.
  • Never download attachments in emails from unknown senders or in emails that seem suspicious.

Those who believe they may be victims of tax identity theft should report suspected fraud to the IRS at 1-800-829-0433 and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue at 1-608-266-2486. More information can also be found at DATCP’s website. The IRS recommends those who suspect identity theft to complete filing their return and pay any taxes owed.

Source: on 2018-01-29 11:52:30

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