April is a booming time for tax fraud and tax identity theft, so you need to be extra careful to avoid this. In the past three years, tax identity theft has increased by 25 percent, and it is projected to cost the US $21 billion over the next five years. In fact, the number of tax identity theft cases has more than doubled, in the last four years alone, rising from 48,000 in 2008, to 1.2 million in 2012.
Here are several things you can do to protect yourself from tax identity theft:
- First, completing and submitting your tax return through a tax preparer or a tax attorney will ensure greater safety. This will also help you should an audit occur, because of a double return if someone does still steal your tax identity.
- Make sure you only visit the legitimate IRS website. This means you need to avoid IRS sites that end in .net, .org or .com. The real site is www.irs.gov, and that is the only legitimate one. Other sites are likely to be identity fraud sites, and you shouldn’t give them any information, under any circumstances.
- Make sure you never give out any personal information, from your address to your social security number, regardless of the appearing legitimacy of the website.
If you are already a victim of tax identity fraud, contact the IRS and inquire about a new social security number to guarantee your safety in future years, file a report with your local Police Department, contact the Consumer Affairs to file a report, and file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.