JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tax season is here, and with more people filing online than ever before, the risk for identity theft is even greater.
According to the IRS, 80% of all Americans file their tax return online.
The agency identified $2.3 billion in tax fraud last year.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 100,000 people reported either tax- or employment-related identity theft in 2020.
With data breaches becoming so common, a scammer getting your Social Security number and filing on your behalf is easier than ever.
Here’s how to protect yourself:
The first step is to file before any scammers can.
Just because you have until April 15 to do it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
The second is getting an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN).
This is not a new tool for the IRS, but the first time anyone can use it -- not just someone who has already been an identity theft victim.
Think of it as a two-factor authentication for filing your taxes.
To sign up, go to IRS.gov/IPPIN.
After going through what the IRS calls a “rigorous verification process,” the taxpayer will receive a six-digit code that is not to be shared with anybody and must be included when you file your taxes.
If you sign up for the PIN, don’t forget it. The IRS says electronic returns that do not contain the correct IP PIN will be rejected and paper returns will go through additional fraud verification.