Protecting yourself from tax identity theft

Published on

Tax identity theft is when someone steals your Social Security Number, files a tax return with your number, and directs a refund to their own bank account. In other cases, this type of identity theft may involve a scam artist calling on the phone, pretending to be a rep from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and demanding payment over the phone. To protect yourself, keep these tips in mind.

1. Remember the IRS doesn't make surprise phone calls

The IRS does call taxpayers, but these calls are never a surprise. By the time an IRS agent calls you about a delinquent tax bill, you should have received numerous notices and demands for payment in the mail. If you get a call that you weren't expecting, the caller is likely a scam artist. Hang up and contact the IRS directly. Never make a payment over the phone.

2. Be aware of the signs that someone has filed a return in your name

There are several red flags that can indicate someone has fraudulently filed a tax return in your name, and they include the following:

  • A letter from the IRS about a tax return you know you didn't file
  • A tax transcript that you didn't request
  • A notice that an online account has been created in your name
  • A notification that your online account has been accessed or disabled when you know you didn't take those actions
  • A rejection notice saying you already filed when you try to file your return electronically
  • IRS records indicating that you received wages or income from an employer you didn't work for

If you notice any of these red flags, you should also reach out to the IRS and consider freezing your credit report to ensure the scam artist doesn't use your info to open any accounts or do any other damage.

3. File your tax return early

To prevent someone from filing a tax return with your Social Security Number, consider filing your tax return as soon as possible. Then, even if a scam artist gets ahold of your info, the IRS will reject the return they attempt to file.

4. Safeguard your Social Security Number

Take steps to keep your Social Security Number as safe as possible. If you have documents with your number on them, shred them and dispose of them carefully. Also, make sure to have safe internet hygiene. In particular, never submit sensitive information such as tax returns, bank sign-in details, or similar data over public WiFi. Always make sure you're on a secure password-protected network.

5. Check your credit report regularly

Ideally, you should check your credit report on a regular basis. This gives you the ability to ensure your credit score is moving in the right direction, but at the same time, you can also see if anyone has opened an account or made a credit inquiry. If that happens, you know your information has been compromised and you can take steps to rectify the issue quickly.


Important disclosures:

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax planning or legal advice. We suggest that you consult with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

LPL Tracking: 1-05080839

Content Provider: WriterAccess

You may also like


Three financial moves to consider before ringing in the New Year

Although you don't have to wait until January to begin working on your financial goals, a new year may bring a much-needed fresh start on your spending and saving goals. Read on for three financial moves you may want to consider before ringing in the…


Retirement mistakes to fix before the holidays

Spend as much time fixing your mistakes as you do planning the holidays

You probably spend more time planning your holiday gathering than preparing for your golden years. As a result, you make basic mistakes in trying to fund your…


Your 2021 year-end planning checklist

It may be easy to forget we're nearing the end of the year. Even during the busy end of year rush, it's a good time to reevaluate your 2021 finances and turn an eye toward 2022. What can you do now to potentially improve and streamline your 2022…

General Disclosures

The opinions and views in this blog post are those of the authors, and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Please consult professional advisors with regard to your individual situation.


Securities and insurance offered through LPL or its affiliates are:

Not Insured by FDIC or Any Other Government Agency

Not Bank Guaranteed

Not Bank Deposits or Obligations

May Lose Value

Securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. Webster Bank and Webster Investments are not registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor. Registered representatives of LPL offer products and services using Webster Investments, and may also be employees of Webster Bank. These products and services are being offered through LPL or its affiliates, which are separate entities from, and not affiliates of, Webster Bank or Webster Investments.

The LPL Financial registered representatives associated with this website may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the states in which they are properly registered or licensed. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident of any other state.

The Webster Symbol is a registered trademark in the U.S.