Scams and identity theft can strike anytime, not just during the hectic tax season. It’s crucial to stay vigilant year-round. We’ve all been there—quickly clicking on a link, only to realize too late that it’s a scam. These incidents are becoming more frequent and difficult to spot, such as receiving notice that an online account was created in your name without your knowledge or that your existing account was accessed or disabled when you took no action.
Recent events have highlighted the importance of staying alert. Scammers attempted to exploit the ANCHOR tax rebate program by sending fraudulent text messages to unsuspecting individuals. The text initially appears legitimate and many people respond without realizing the trouble that follows. Unfortunately, replying to scam messages confirms that your phone or email address is active and leaves you open to more unsolicited, malicious messages. Scammers can gain access to your personal information and try to convince you to provide passwords or financial details, causing a disastrous domino effect. It is very important to never click on a link or attachment that you do not recognize or were not expecting to receive.
Other fraudulent activity to be aware of is receiving a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you didn’t file. If you find that a tax return in your name was filed by someone other than you, contact the IRS immediately to report the identity fraud at 800-908-4490. If you are unable to e-file your real return due to the fraudulent return having already been e-filed, you can paper file your return with a completed Form 14039 “Identity Theft Affidavit” attached. Certain tax-related identity theft victims will be placed in the ”Identity Protection PIN program” and will annually receive a new six-digit IP PIN for e-filing their return.