Tax season is upon us again, and many federal agencies are making recommendations and providing tips to help taxpayers learn how to protect themselves from tax-related identity theft and IRS imposter scams.

What is tax-related identity theft?

According to the IRS, tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security Number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. You may be unaware this has happened until you e-file your return and discover a return has already been filed using your SSN or you get a letter from the IRS saying it has identified a suspicious return using your SSN.

Steps to protect yourself.

Taking steps to protect your identity can go a long ways in preventing tax-related identity theft. Remember you can be a victim of identity theft even if you never use a computer. Scammers obtain personal information by stealing wallets, overhearing phone conversations or rummaging through trash.

Here are some ways to minimize your risk:

  • Keep your computer secure by using and maintaining anti-virus software and a firewall.
  • Treat your personal information like cash, don't just leave it lying around.
  • Do business with reputable companies.
  • Protect your personal information. Don't carry your social security card or documents with your SSN around.
  • Shred any documents with personal information you don't need anymore.

If you are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends these steps:

Cindy Moyle

Cindy is a Senior Vice President / Operations Director for Heartland Bank. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Outside of the bank, Cindy enjoys spending time with her family and going to garage sales and flea markets.

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