Tax-related identity theft and tax-related scams are a big concern for taxpayers and for the IRS. For example, an identity thief might use your Social Security Number to file an income tax return before you do, collecting a tax refund. Another problem is when scammers call or email claiming to be from the IRS and demanding an immediate payment for a tax obligation that doesn’t really exist.
The IRS has a Web page with resources for Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection, and Victim Assistance. IRS Publication 5027 provides identity theft information for taxpayers. IRS Publication 4524 offers basic security awareness tips for taxpayers, including how to keep your computer secure and how to avoid phishing and malware. IRS Publication 5199 is a guide to identity theft for tax preparers.
If you e-file your tax return with the IRS this year, but your filing is rejected because someone else already falsely filed a tax return using your Social Security Number, prepare and file IRS Form 14039 to report the tax-related identity theft to the IRS. You also should follow the detailed checklist at IdentityTheft.gov to report the identity theft and make a recovery plan.
More tips and resources for staying safe online when using your devices are available at StaySafeOnline.org. They have a list of Simple Cybersecurity Tips for Staying Safe Online During Tax Time. For additional computer security tips, I recommend reading the monthly OUCH! security awareness newsletters published by SANS Securing the Human, especially the newsletters on Four Steps to Staying Secure, Passphrases, Password Managers, Two-Step Verification, Shopping Online Securely, and Phishing.