Identity Theft Articles

Guarding Tax Documents Important In Identity Theft Prevention

In addition to credit cards and bank statements, consumers should guard their tax documents

Some Americans may avidly protect their bank account information from criminals, but there are other documents that could cause damage if they fall into the wrong hands, including tax paperwork.

It's easy to forget how much sensitive information tax forms contain because Americans don't deal with them on a weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis the way they do with credit card and bank statements. But it's important to devote an equal amount of attention to these forms because they hold a great deal of data - including a consumer's name, address, Social Security number, place of employment, income and more.

Many identity theft scams committed using a person's taxes are done under the guise of the Internal Revenue Service, with thieves masquerading as agency officials and requesting information via email, mail or phishing scams. According to the IRS, the agency will never initiative contact with a taxpayer via email. Meaning that any emails sent supposedly by the IRS should be forwarded to the agency's phishing website address, which can be found on their main site.

The agency also explains that some criminals may use a victim's Social Security number to obtain employment. In this case, they may also file their income under their victim's name, making it appear that the legitimate consumer earned more than they reported on their tax return. Most of these cases will result in being contacted by the agency about the unreported income. To avoid any difficulties, consumers should keep organized records of all income, tax information, and documents related to work, education, child and charitable deductions or claims. Keeping these records may help consumers discover - and prove - that a case of identity theft has occurred.

The same may be true if a consumer receives a letter from the IRS claiming that more than one tax return was filed in a consumer's name. The IRS encourages workers to respond directly to the letter informing them that they suspect identity theft.

Contacting the correct parties is a large part in getting a consumer's life back in order after a case of identity theft. Depending on the type of theft - financial, medical or both - consumers should contact their lenders, banks, and insurance companies. But taxpayers should also take into account how the crime may affect their taxes and contact the IRS if they believe their Social Security number was used for employment purposes.