With the start of a new tax-filing season, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reminds taxpayers to be aware that identity thieves continue to make attempts to steal money and personal information. And just like any phishing scheme, the dubious message attempts are clever and seem extremely legitimate.
Protect your identity against tax fraud
The deadline to file your 2022 taxes is Tuesday, April 18. The IRS encourages you to file electronically to make the process smoother and file early to beat those who may try to commit identity fraud and steal your money. Because the IRS accepts only one Social Security number (SSN) per tax return, filing early eliminates the threat of a scammer submitting a return in your name using your SSN. Identity thieves depend on trying to get their fraudulent income tax return filed before you file your actual return. Therefore, try to file your return as soon as possible.
To increase security, the IRS offers taxpayers extra protection through the agency’s Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) program. The IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to verify their identity when submitting their federal tax forms. It also helps to prevent someone from filing a fake return using someone else’s SSN. To date, there are more than 6.6 million taxpayers participating in the IP PIN program.
Be on the lookout for tax-related phishing attacks
Cybercriminals will email, call, text or direct message you to click on a link or share your personal and financial information. Examples include scammers calling you pretending that they are the IRS and demanding you pay your taxes right away or they will arrest you; some phishing emails may explain that your taxes are overdue and you must click and go to a website or open an attachment to process your overdue taxes; and other messages may insist that they need to verify your W-2 and other personal information asking you to send them pictures of your driver’s license, documents and other forms. Remember, any message that creates a strong and threatening sense of urgency is a big indicator of a scam.
Understand how the IRS communicates with taxpayers
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by phone, email, text message or social media channels to request personal or financial information. The only method the IRS will use through first contact is via mail. If you want to confirm if a message that you received is legitimate, call the IRS directly at 800.829.1040.
Recognize and report the signs of data theft
According to the IRS, tax refund fraud affects hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens annually. If you clicked a link in a message and shared your personal information, you can file a report with the IRS at IdentityTheft.gov to get a customized recovery plan based on what information you shared. Even if you didn’t lose money to the scam, you can tell the IRS about the suspicious message you received at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
The official website for the IRS is www.irs.gov. Never use public Wi-Fi to file your taxes — only connect to networks that you trust.
If you have concerns about a suspicious message or need additional information, contact the NC State Help Desk via the NC State IT Service Portal or call 919.515.HELP (4357).