Tax Time: Protecting Your Identity

IRSTax season is under way, with 1099s and W-2s already in mailboxes – and the Internal Revenue Service has also issued its annual list of the most common scams, called the dirty dozen. At the top of the list is identity theft, followed by potential tax swindles pitched by phone and email. Mike Dobzinski, a media relations specialist with the IRS, warns taxpayers to beware of IRS imposters making threats. “You owe X amount of dollars,’” he cites as an example. “’If you don’t pay up, we’re going to arrest you, take you to jail, deport you, revoke your license,’ and a whole bunch of threatening tactics. And the IRS just doesn’t make these kinds of calls.” Other tax deceptions on the dirty dozen list include offshore money-hiding schemes, and false promises of free money for inflated refunds. Dobzinski says with personal information on W-2 forms and others in your mailbox this time of year, it’s not hard for scammers to steal your information, and even attempt to file taxes in your name to benefit from your refund. “I recommend contacting Internal Revenue Service if you get a letter that’s addressed incorrectly to you to contact us,” he advises. “It’s possible that a return has been filed in your name, you may not know that, but that may be the first tip off.” Dobzinski says the IRS also has made a special effort to alert businesses with large databases to take extra steps to protect client data.