It's Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week - Are You Prepared?

Are you ready for tax season? If you haven’t heard about tax identity theft, you may not be. Tax identity theft happens when someone files a phony tax return using your personal information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund from the IRS. It also can happen when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job or claims your child as a dependent on a tax return.

Tax identity theft has been the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past five years. Tax identity thieves get your personal information in a number of ways. For example:

So what can you do about it? To lessen the chance you’ll be a victim: 

What if you are a victim? Tax identity theft victims typically find out about the crime when they get a letter from the IRS saying that more than one tax return was filed in their name, or IRS records show they received wages from an employer they don’t know. If you get a letter like this, don’t panic. Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. Visit IdentityTheft.gov, the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. You can report identity theft, get step-by-step advice, sample letters, and your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. These resources will help you fix problems caused by the theft.

It's not too late to get involved in the week. Today, January 28, at 1 p.m., the FTC and the IRS will co-host a webinar with information to help victims of tax identity theft. Tomorrow, January 29, the FTC and the Identity Theft Resource Center will co-host a Twitter chat about tax ID theft. Join the conversation at 2 p.m. using hashtag #IDTheftChat.

And don't forget that more information about tax identity theft is available from the FTC at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and the IRS at irs.gov/identitytheft.