Tax season is here! That unfortunately means identity theft season is also here. Womp, womp. Identity theft can happen when a scam artist collects your tax refund by using fake documents to file a tax return in your name. And yes, proving to the IRS that the tax return they received with your name on it wasn’t actually yours can cause major stress. But don’t worry! These 6 tips can help you protect yourself from income tax fraud:
1. Protect your forms
Your W-2 and other tax-related forms contain A LOT of personal information. Be vigilant and protect those forms, both on your computer and in your house. Store physical copies in a secure place, don't make more copies than absolutely necessary, and make sure the documents are securely delivered (i.e. in person or if by mail, request a return receipt, etc.) to the person preparing your tax return if you use a tax preparer. If sending via email, send encrypted or use a preparer’s secured portal to transmit electronically
2. Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)
An IP PIN is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The IP PIN is known only to you and the IRS. (No one from Green Dot or GO2bank will ever ask you for your IP PIN—so beware of scammers online!) Getting an IP PIN from the IRS is fast, easy, and free!
3. Vet your tax preparer
If your tax return is being prepared by a professional, make sure your tax preparer is reputable, trusted, and fits your budget. Check reviews online, or better yet, give them a call! A one-on-one conversation can help give you the best idea of how they run their business and what their concerns are when filing your taxes.
4. Use a safe computer
If you prepare your own tax return, try to do it from your own personal computer. Keep a copy of your tax return safe, regardless of whether you’re filing in paper or electronically. If you are e-filing your tax return, be sure to choose a strong password different from your other passwords.
5. Direct deposit your refund
When you direct deposit your tax refund, your refund goes directly to your bank account. Refund checks can be delayed, lost in the mail, or even stolen. You can prevent that stress by setting up direct deposit to your GO2bank account. Then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy getting your federal tax refund up to 5 days early1! Learn more about how to direct deposit your refund to your GO2bank account.
6. File early
Anyone filing fraudulently in your name will file early to try and make sure their return is the first one received by the IRS. Your e-filed return may be rejected because of a duplicate tax filing with your Social Security number, so if this happens you can report it to the IRS immediately. So, get a move on that tax return after you’ve received all your required documents and try to file as early as possible!
Okay, some real talk from your GO2 friends: Income tax fraud is no joke. Proving you had nothing to do with the fraudulent filing is a difficult and stressful process. It can also potentially interfere with your tax filing status and reputation, not just in the year of the fraud, but with the IRS on a long-term basis. So, take every precaution you can, follow these tips, and get cracking on that tax return.
Looking for a bank account to direct deposit your tax fund? Get your federal tax refund up to 5 days early with direct deposit1 and learn more about how you can use a GO2bank mobile bank account to take control of your financial journey.
The views and opinions expressed here may not represent the views and opinions of GO2bank, Green Dot Corporation, or its affiliates. It is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal, or business advice.