Tax Identity Theft Week Tips
January 30, 2017
This week (Jan. 30- Feb. 3) is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. Tax identity theft is an ongoing problem throughout the county. Here are some tips to avoid what can be a very frustrating and costly situation:
- File your taxes as soon as possible. The sooner you file, the less chance someone has to fraudulently file on your behalf.
- Be on the lookout for tax-related mail. Keep track of your mail around the time that W-2 forms are distributed to ensure that your W-2 (or any other tax-related document) has not been taken out of your mailbox. You may want to have your W-2 provided to you electronically if your employer allows that option.
- Do your homework. Find a legitimate tax preparer in your area by searching the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. The directory contains only professionals who hold appropriate credentials, such as an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion from the IRS or a Preparer Tax Identification Number.
- Check the reputation of the business. If you plan to use a tax preparation service, research the reputation of the business by contacting the Ohio Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. If you choose to use a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), check to make sure that person is licensed with the Accountancy Board of Ohio.
- Ask questions and never sign blank documents. Review your tax return thoroughly before signing or filing anything with the IRS. In some cases, fraudsters pose as legitimate tax preparers in order to obtain your personal information — and possibly your refund. They may use your personal information to route your refund into their personal bank account. Beware of “tax preparers” who suggest issuing your refund on a prepaid credit card. Once your refund is loaded on the card, the “preparer” could use the card number to steal your refund.
- Beware of “IRS” imposter scams. Scammers may call and pose as “IRS representatives,” claiming that you must first verify personal information, such as your Social Security number, before receiving a refund check. Know that legitimate government agencies will never contact you unexpectedly and request personal information. Hang up immediately and call the IRS using a number that you know to be legitimate to report the call.