It’s tax-filing season and while you might be looking forward to a federal or state tax refund, so are some clever and relentless identity thieves.
From now through Tuesday, April 17, the federal and state tax-filing deadline, you need to be extremely cautious of tax scams. The IRS has reported a surge in tax scams that are targeting individuals, businesses, payroll and human resources professionals, and even tax preparers.
Many of these scams are phishing attacks that often come in the form of emails designed to fool you into releasing sensitive data; others are instant messages or text messages (aka smishing) or even phone calls (aka vishing). Here are a few tips to help you avoid tax return fraud and tax-related identity theft:
- Be careful when sharing sensitive data
Take the necessary precautions to determine who you are communicating with before you provide sensitive or identifying information, such as your social security number, bank account number, name, or passwords. The IRS will not request information via email, text messages or social media. See:
- Stay informed
Pay attention to news articles and alerts, such as the IRS Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts, concerning current phishing trends and tactics.
- File your taxes ASAP
When you file early, you narrow the window for someone to steal your identity and file a return in your name.
- Shred bank and tax documents
Once you’re done with your bank and tax documents and have submitted your return successfully, consider shredding your documents. Once used, these documents are more of a liability than an asset if not stored under lock and key or encrypted if stored electronically.
- Get a mailbox with a lock
Lock your mailbox to prevent the chance of someone illegally snatching your mail.
For additional security information, see:
- StaySafeOnline.org – Spam & Phishing
- Federal Trade Commission – Phishing
- Safe Computing at NC State
- NC State Password Standard
- Two-Factor Authentication at NC State