21 Aug 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by sanrafaelpatch
Patch Instagram photo by sanrafaelpatch
Patch Instagram photo by sanrafaelpatch
Patch Instagram photo by sanrafaelpatch

Protect Yourself From Tax-Related Identity Theft

Several reports of fraud in Mill Valley. Here are important phishing contact information if you find yourself being targeted by scammers released by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.

Protect Yourself From Tax-Related Identity Theft

Mill Valley police respond to reports of identity theft, fraud and phone scams weekly. With tax season coming up, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris is kicking off a Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, issuing tips to safeguard yourself from becoming victim.

In a press release today, Harris asks Californians to keep a keen eye out in order to prevent tax-related identity theft as the annual tax compiling and filing process begins.

Tax-related identity theft increases in January and commonly occurs when:

  • Thieves use stolen personal information to file tax returns in someone else’s name in order to obtain a refund.
  • Thieves use a stolen Social Security number (SSN) for employment, which may complicate state and federal income tax obligations for the victim.
  • Thieves send phishing emails that look like they are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) that ask for personal information or include links to official-looking web sites.

California consumers are urged to use the following tips to better prevent tax-related identity theft:

  • Never open an email or a text message that says it is from the IRS or the FTB - they are always fraudulent. State and federal tax agencies never initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information or to send notice regarding audits or refunds.
  • It’s fine to show your Social Security card to your employer when you start a job or to your financial institution for tax reporting purposes. Do not routinely carry your card or other documents that display your SSN.
  • While preparing your tax return for electronic filing, make sure to use a strong password. A strong password is at least eight characters and includes a combination of at least three upper and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols and numerals.
  • Once you have e-filed your return, save it to a flash drive, CD or similar device and then delete the tax information from your hard drive. Store the CD or flash drive in a safe place, such as a lock box or safe. If working with an accountant, ask about what measures they take to protect your information.
  • Use a locked mailbox and don’t leave your mail in it for long periods of time. Take your mail that contains sensitive information (bills, tax returns) to the post office.
  • If your SSN is stolen, reference the California Attorney General’s Identity Theft First Aid page for instructions on what to do:  www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/first-aid.

You may have a tax identity theft problem if you receive a letter from the IRS or FTB stating that:

  • you filed more than one tax return,
  • someone has already filed using your information,
  • you have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year in which you did not file a return, or
  • you received wages from an employer for whom you have not worked.

If you receive such a letter (not an email) from the IRS or FTB, immediately contact the agency’s identity theft unit:

Internal Revenue Service: phishing@irs.gov

IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit

1-800-908-4490

California Franchise Tax Board:  www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/id_theft.shtml#ID

ID Theft Resolution Coordinator

1-916-845-3669

Additional Resources:

Internal Revenue Service

Identity Theft web pages:   www.irs.gov/uac/Suspicious-e-Mails-and-Identity-Theft and

www.irs.gov/uac/Indications-your-identity-may-have-been-stolen-and-how-to-report-it-to-us

Franchise Tax Board

Identity theft web page:  www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/id_theft.shtml#ID

California Attorney General

Identity Theft Protection and First Aid:  http://oag.ca.gov/idtheft  

Federal Trade Commission

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week:  http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0029-tax-identity-theft-awareness-week 

For more information on how to identify and protect yourself from identity theft visit Attorney General Harris’ website.


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