West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds taxpayers at the start of the tax season to exercise great caution by protecting their personal, identifiable information when preparing and filing their tax returns.
Sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, finances, birth dates and addresses are some of the many things scammers could easily use to their advantage.
“Scammers are actively trying to steal your sensitive, personal, identifiable information,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “That’s why it’s imperative that consumers be mindful of how they handle tax information and who processes tax-related documents on their behalf. When filing taxes, remember that studies show those more likely to steal your information aren’t strangers but people you know.”
Consumers can greatly reduce the risk of fraud by filing their return well before the April 18 deadline. This gives thieves less time to file a false return since IRS records would show a return in the consumer’s name has already been filed. They also should use a secure Internet connection and never file their return via publicly available Wi-Fi.
Additional tips include:
- Cross shred documents. Identity thieves rummage through trash to find information.
- Be wary of suspicious emails that may look legitimate, but are really a means to steal personal information. Look for typos, misspellings and bad grammar.
- Know the Internal Revenue Service does not contact taxpayers via text message, email or social media.
- A victim may learn of tax-related identity theft when he or she receives a letter from the IRS reporting it has received a return the consumer did not file, or reporting multiple returns filed under the victim’s name, or reporting that the victim received wages from an employer he or she doesn’t know.
- Anyone who receives a letter from the IRS indicating potential impersonation should immediately call the agency’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
Consumers who believe they may be the victim of tax-related identity theft should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.