7 Tips to Avoid Identity Theft During the 2020 Tax Season

February 3, 2020 by ACA Aponix


This week is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week in the U.S. As tax filing season kicks off, it’s important to be on the lookout for tax scams.

Below are our tips for staying diligent and resources to share with your employees and friends.

Tip 1: File as Early as Possible

Even though tax returns are not due until April 15, we recommend filing as soon as possible to get ahead of potential fraudulent filings submitted on your behalf.

Tip 2: Think Before You Click or Respond

The IRS has made it very clear that they will first contact you by mail, not by phone, email, or text. The IRS will not require an immediate payment or transfer. The IRS urges anyone who believes they may have received a fraudulent tax email to not click any links in the email and to forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

Tax scams that happen via telephone call or text message often have common characteristics that you can look out for to identify a fake, including:

  • Fake names and IRS badge numbers. Look out for common names and surnames.
  • Scammers may know the last four digits of your social security number ("SSN") and will threaten to suspend or cancel your SSN.
  • The IRS toll-free telephone number can be spoofed on caller ID.
  • Telephone scammers may follow up with an email containing a link to a fraudulent website that is often malware infected.
  • Background noise that sounds like a call center.

Be diligent and do not provide your information over the phone or by text.

For more information, see the IRS' resources on identity theft prevention and detection.

Tip 3: Check Your Credit Report

Protect your SSN and your credit history. Confirm that no one has opened an account in your name and freeze your credit (free) with the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian).

Tip 4: Verify Schedule K-1 and W-2 Form Requests

We urge caution when responding to requests from purported investors, clients, employees, or tax advisers for K-1 or W-2 forms, as these requests may be fraudulent. Be sure to password-encrypt K-1, W-2, and 1099 documents when sending them to individuals, and do not distribute the password via email. We recommend that you use password-protected portals for transferring such documents.

Tip 5: Use Secure File Transfer With Your Tax Preparer

Tax preparers are targets as well. Be sure to verify the credentials of your tax preparer and only use secure internet connections to upload tax return information.

Tip 6: Validate Charities Including Those Related to Natural Disasters

Fraudulent charities have become common. Many look to raise funds for those affected by natural disasters. Attackers will use breached email boxes to send support requests for these charities to victims. Before providing a credit card or payment to a charity, validate whether the charity is legitimate.

Tip 7: Raise Awareness

We urge you to share this information with family, friends, colleagues, and staff. If you or someone you know has been the victim of identity theft or a fraudulent wire transaction, reach out to your local police department and/or the FBI for assistance.

Additional Resources

The FTC and IRS have provided many resources for you and your employees to learn how to identify, report, and avoid tax scams. We encourage to you to check out these resources:

ACA Aponix Resources

ACA Aponix provides cyber awareness resources year-round that you can share with employees, friends, and family, including:

We also offer both in-person and online cyber awareness training courses.

Contact Us

Questions

If you have any questions, please contact your ACA Aponix consultant or email us at info@acaaponix.com.