Many people are aware of the dangers of identity theft but may not realize how quickly it is growing or the numerous areas in which it can occur. Did you know, for example, that identity theft reports to the Federal Trade Commission jumped by nearly 50 percent in 2015, to almost half a million claims? Here’s another surprising statistic: Tax refund fraud is considered the biggest and fastest-growing kind of identity theft. If you’re not sure how to respond to or protect against tax identity theft, the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants offers some timely answers:
1. Be on notice if you get an IRS notice.
One example of tax identity theft involves a scammer using your Social Security number to file a false return and then collecting a tax refund he or she doesn’t deserve. For that reason, you may learn you’re a victim of tax identity theft when you receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service stating more than one tax return was filed with your information. Your best response is to respond immediately by following the instructions in the notice. If you believe you are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information, you should immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490 so the agency can take action to secure your tax account.