Tax forms often contain sensitive financial information - from Social Security numbers to details on a consumer's income - that could lend themselves to identity theft. Identity intelligence firm ID Analytics recommended ways to protect these forms from landing in the wrong hands.
Companies are required to mail 1099 and W-2 forms to their employees by the end of January. Consumers should keep an eye on their mailboxes for these forms. If they do not arrive, they may have been stolen.
Consumers should also be careful about their communication with the Internal Revenue Service, according to the report. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers through email. Any communication of this form is fraudulent and should be reported.
"If you receive an unusual notification from the IRS, such as a report of wages from an employer you do not know, be alert to possible identity theft," the report said.
Identity thieves often use stolen information to open credit card accounts. They may file their taxes using a stolen Social Security number, causing the victim to file what appears as a duplicate report. This may also spark suspicion at the IRS that a taxpayer is not accounting for all their earned wages, according to the report by ID Analytics.
Checking an annual income statement can help consumers notice this kind of activity and contact the IRS before filing their report. Getting in touch with the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit will allow victims to resolve identity theft issues quickly.
By requesting a credit report from one of the three credit bureaus, consumers can spot and take action against mistakes or fraudulent activity that may affect their overall finances.
ID Analytics suggested keeping tax documents in a secure area out of public view. Planning ahead for next spring can help consumers organize the forms they will need to file their taxes, as well as establish the peace-of-mind necessary to protect their identity.
Identity theft is among the nation's fastest growing crimes, according to a recent report by Javelin Strategy & Research. More than 11 million Americans, or one in every 20 adults, were victimized last year, accounting for $54 billion in crime. The study also showed that consumers are taking action against fraudulent activity more quickly than in previous years.