With tax-filing season in full swing, the Federal Trade Commission is reminding consumers to be careful of identity theft related to personal tax filings.
Since tax returns include sensitive personal information, the agency warns consumers to take steps to ensure your tax information does not fall into the wrong hands.
The FTC suggests consumers be satisfied that a person helping to prepare your taxes is trustworthy.
Filing as early as possible can be a plus, since early filing reduces the window of time in which a thief could fraudulently file under your Social Security number.
The agency recommends using only secure Internet connections if filing electronically. If filing by mail, it may be best to go directly to the post office to mail returns.
If consumers receive email messages claiming to be from the IRS and asking for personal information, they should not respond. The FTC notes that if the IRS needs to contact you, it will do so by mail.
One particular problem is that identity thieves may file a tax return in a victim’s name using a stolen Social Security number. The FTC urges consumers who are concerned that this may have happened, to contact the IRS immediately for assistance.
For details, read the FTC’s “At Tax Time, FTC Reminds Consumers: Watch Out for Identity Theft” (available online at www.ftc.gov).