Tax ID Scams

SPECIAL TO DEVILS LAKE  JOURNAL

Tax ID scams usually work like this: Someone who has obtained personal information such as your Social Security number and date of birth files a tax return in your name. They do so as early as possible, because the scam relies on the phony return getting to the Internal Revenue Service ahead of the real one. By the time you file, the fraudster may have already gotten a refund, and you won’t know you’ve been victimized until you get word from the IRS that it already has received “your” return.

Warning signs that you may be a victim of tax ID theft include receiving a notice from the IRS that more than one return was filed using your Social Security number. Or, you receive a warning from the IRS that you didn’t declare all of your income, based on wages from an employer or job you do not recognize.

To prevent tax ID theft, file your return as early in the tax season as possible. Keep personal and financial documents secure, and shred them when you no longer need them. Never give out personal information such as your address, date of birth and Social Security number unless you know who's asking for it and why. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card or documents containing Social Security numbers.

When online, don’t click links or open attachments in an email unless you are certain of who sent it. Don’t enter personal or financial information on a website unless you know it is secure — look for https:// in the URL address or a padlock icon in the browser window. When using public Wi-Fi, don’t do anything that involves password-protected accounts or personal or financial data.

If you think you have fallen victim to any type of scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 for guidance and support, or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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