Tax Identity Theft a Growing Problem in the United States
Equifax shares tips on how to help protect yourself during tax season
ATLANTA, Feb. 19, 2013
ATLANTA, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When you think of crime, a warehouse
full of people on computers might not be your first thought. But this is
becoming more commonplace as criminals see the ease and financial gain in tax
identity theft—that is, falsifying tax returns to get someone else's refund
check. Equifax is sharing tips for consumers on how to avoid becoming a victim
of this growing problem.
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The Internal Revenue Service has seen a tremendous increase in the number of
fraudulent returns filed. As of September 2012, the IRS had identified 641,690
tax-related identity theft incidents from the first nine months of the year.
This compares to 242,142 total incidents in 2011 and 47,730 total incidents in
All it takes for a thief to file a fake tax return is a stolen Social Security
number and a fake address. Victims realize their refunds have been stolen
after the IRS denies them their rightful check.
However, you can take steps to lessen your risk of becoming a victim to tax
identity theft. Tips to help protect yourself include:
oKeep your personal information safe. Keep documents like your Social
Security card, Medicare card and birth certificate in a secure place. Only
carry these documents with you when absolutely necessary.
oFile your tax return as soon as possible to beat a potential scammer to
the punch. If you file with the IRS first, the thief will be denied when
trying to use your Social Security number for a fake return.
oIf filing by mail, take your tax return directly to the post office. Do
not leave it in your mailbox where it can easily be stolen.
oBe especially aware of those who prepare your tax report. Only seek tax
preparation services from reputable businesses. Check with the Better
oIf you wouldn't normally file a tax return because, for example, you are a
full-time student with no income, be wary of anyone offering to prepare
your taxes so you can receive a refund or "free money."
oNever sign a blank form that someone else will complete for you.
oDon't fall for a spam scam. The IRS never initiates contact through email
to ask for personal information.
oCheck your credit report regularly. If your personal information has been
compromised for tax fraud, it's possible that identity thieves will commit
other types of identity fraud with this information, such as opening
credit card accounts in your name. Consumers can request a free credit
report from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year at
"The best defense against identity theft of any kind is to be vigilant in the
protection of your personal information," said Trey Loughran, president of the
Personal Solutions unit at Equifax. "It can take many months for a victim of
tax identity theft to finally get his or her rightfully owed refund check."
If the IRS denies your tax return because you've been a victim of identity
theft, there are steps you can take to get your rightful return. First, file a
report with the police. Next, file a report with the IRS Identity Protection
Specialized Unit by calling 1-800-908-4490, and sign an identity theft
Equifax Personal Solutions empowers consumers with the confidence and control
to be their financial best. Find out more about Equifax's innovative suite of
credit monitoring and identity protection products at www.equifax.com. Get
smart information on everything from credit to retirement, all in one place at
the Equifax Finance Blog, blog.equifax.com.
Equifax is a global leader in consumer, commercial and workforce information
solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information
they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 500 million
consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and
proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich
both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 18 countries
and is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is
traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. For more
information, please visit www.equifax.com.
Contact: Caroline Wilbert, +1-404-965-5021, firstname.lastname@example.org or Michele
Cacdac-Jones, +1-678-795-7885, email@example.com
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