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The Berman Buzz

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week: 5 Habits to Protect Your Identity

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Credit card with padlock

Someone who assumes your identity for tax purposes does so to file a fraudulent return and pocket the refund. Unfortunately, you may not realize it happened until the IRS rejects your legitimate return as a duplicate filing. Scammers might even pretend to be the IRS, claiming you owe money and demanding direct payment with a gift card or prepaid debit card.

In the United States, one-third of adults have been victims of identity theft. Identity thieves and IRS imposters are ready for tax season and looking for potential victims. Secure sensitive information and ensure your refund ends up in your hands and not that of a clever thief by practicing these simple habits.

Social Security Number Protection

Protect your Social Security Number throughout the year. Tax identity theft almost always involves a stolen Social Security Number since the IRS uses these numbers to identify taxpayers. To prevent identity theft, leave your card in a protected place at home and provide it to others only when necessary. Furthermore, carefully check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually to ensure all your information is accurate. If your Social Security Number becomes compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 or

Financial Documents and Credit Card Solicitation

Keep financial information private. Clever thieves who cannot hack into your computer might obtain data in other ways. Be wary of providing personal information over the phone or through the mail. And remember, the IRS will not contact you via email, social media, text, or call. They will only contact you by U.S. mail.

Shred financial documents, such as tax documents, bank statements, bills, and receipts. These records are potential trapdoors that allow entrance into your personal life. Also, reduce credit card solicitations, as opening a credit card in your name is often a thief's first step toward acquiring your Social Security Number. If you want to safely discard financial documents and junk mail solicitations, shred them before dumping them in the trash. Furthermore, carefully check your credit report at least once per year to verify that there are no unwanted accounts under your name.

Online Safety

Stay safe online. Shopping online and using publicly accessible Wi-Fi can pose substantial risks, allowing identity thieves to steal personal and financial information. Take precautions while online. For example:

  • Shop at sites where the web address begins with HTTPS. The "s" is for secure communications and look for the "padlock" icon in the browser window.

  • Never purchase items from online sellers that only accept payment by cryptocurrency, gift cards, or money transfers through companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram.

  • Do not shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in places such as malls, restaurants, or parks.

  • Use strong and unique passwords and multi-factor authentication when possible.

  • Update security and anti-virus software for computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

Fake Charities

Taxpayers should be on alert for scammers using fake charities to commit fraud. Scammers often take advantage of people's generosity by setting up fake charities to trick unsuspecting donors into giving away money and sensitive personal information. Being alert to potential scams will shield a taxpayer's money and protect financial data that scammers can use in tax-related identity theft.

Here to Help During Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

File your taxes before the criminals by letting an expert do your taxes for you, start to finish. If you have questions about your unique situation or need strategic financial advice, we are here to help. Contact us to let us know how we can best support you.


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