Preventing Tax Related Identity Theft

By: Roni Deutch | Posted: 09th February 2011

The United States Federal Trade Commission estimates as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of someone else’s personal identifying information - such as Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and credit card numbers - to use for their own personal gain. Identity theft victims may experience funds being taken out of their bank or financial accounts, or, in the worst cases, their identities being taken altogether—where the criminal runs up vast debts and even commits crimes while using the victim’s identity.

To reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, there are some basic steps you can take. The most important thing you can do is to be cautious about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them.

Adopt a need to know approach to your personal data. Your credit card company may need to know your mother's maiden name, so that it can verify your identity when you call to inquire about your account. A person who calls you and says he's from your bank, however, doesn't need to know that information if it's already on file with your bank; the only purpose of such a call is to acquire that information for that person's personal benefit. Also, the more information that you have printed on your personal bank checks -- such as your Social Security number or home telephone number -- the more personal data you are routinely handing out to people who do not need that information. Remember, those checks are handled by a lot of people before they are deposited in a bank.

If someone you don't know calls you on the telephone and offers you the chance to receive a major credit card, a prize, or other valuable item, but asks you for personal data -- such as your Social Security number, credit card number or expiration date, or your mother's maiden name -- ask them to send you a written application form. If they won't do it, tell them you're not interested and hang up. If they will, review the application carefully when you receive it and make sure it's going to a company or financial institution that's well known and reputable.

If you're traveling, have your mail held at your local post office, or ask someone you know and trust (e.g. a family member, a friend, or a neighbor) to collect and hold your mail while you're away. If you have to telephone someone while you're traveling, and need to pass on personal financial information to the person you're calling, don't do it at an open telephone booth where passersby can listen in on what you're saying; use a telephone booth where you can close the door, or wait until you're in a less public location to call.

Double check your W-2 information. If you get a W-2 from an unknown employer or see wages that you did not earn on a notice from the IRS, you may have a problem. If someone is using your Social Security number and identity to obtain employment, then you may be liable for any unpaid employment taxes. Contact the IRS Identity Theft Resource Center as soon as possible.

The IRS reminds taxpayers every year that they do not initiate communications through email. They will send letters, and attempt to reach you over the phone, but they will never email you asking for personal information. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be the IRS, do not reply, do not open any attachments and do not click any links. Mark it as spam, and delete it immediately.

Since tax-related identity theft has become such a serious issue for American taxpayers, in April of 2009, the IRS released Form 14039 for taxpayers who have either experienced – or are at risk of – identity theft. It ensures that victims are not held responsible for fraudulent tax liabilities, minimizes the burden on the victim, and helps minimize the time to resolve the case. The IRS asserts that most cases are resolved in less than two months.

The Tax Lady Roni Deutch and her law firm Roni Deutch, A Professional Tax Corporation have been helping taxpayers across the nation find IRS tax relief for over seventeen years. The firm also recently began offering bankruptcy filing representation to residents to Northern California.
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Tags: expiration date, credit card numbers, personal data, social security numbers, social security, debts, crimes, federal trade commission, social security number, victim of identity theft, application form, personal gain, home telephone, maiden name, financial accounts