Tax related identity theft can occur online, through email, and in person. It is important to remember that the IRS will never call you with threats of jail or lawsuits, send you an unsolicited email suggesting you have a refund or that you need to update your account, or request any sensitive information online. These are all scams and they are persistent. By taking a few simple steps, you can better protect yourself from identity thieves.
Keep Your Devices SecureIf you shop online or use public Wi-Fi you may be at risk of tax related identity theft.
- Use firewall and security software and set it to allow automatic updates for phones, computers, and tablets.
- Use strong, unique passwords
- Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. It helps prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts.
- Give personal information only over encrypted websites- look for “https” addresses
- Avoid shopping on unsecured public Wi-Fi in places like the mall, coffee shops, or restaurants
- Backup your files
Avoid Phishing Scams and MalwareIdentity thieves use phishing emails to trick users into giving up passwords and other information. Fraudsters may also contact you claiming they are employees of the IRS, but are not. You might be told you owe money to the IRS and if you refuse, scammers may threaten you. Here is what you should look for:
- Emails that pose as trustworthy sources such as your bank or tax provider
- Emails with an urgent message that include a link or attachment
- Never download software or apps from pop-up advertising
Get an Identity Protection PIN
Taxpayers who can validate their identities can obtain an Identity Protection PIN. An IP PIN is a six-digit code that prevents an identity thief from filing a fraudulent tax return using your Social Security number. Use the Get an Identity Protection PIN tool at IRS.gov/ippin to immediately get an IP PIN, and make sure to never share your IP PIN with anyone but a trusted tax provider.
If you become a victim of tax related identity theft, forward IRS-related scam emails to email@example.com and report IRS impersonation telephone calls at www.tigta.gov.