Tax-related identity theft cases reported by Beaverton police; IRS offers …

Beaverton police are advising the public to take steps to prevent becoming victims of identity theft during tax filing season.

Officers have taken several reports over the last few months of people saying their Social Security numbers have been stolen and used to file fraudulent tax returns, including at least eight cases last week, according to the department. No links have been determined between the incidents, police said on Monday.

According to the IRS, some possible signs of tax identity theft could include:

  • Being notified either by the IRS or a tax professional that more than one tax return for you was filed.
  • Having a balance due, refund offset or collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicating you received more wages than you actually earned or your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information indicating an income change.

To not be a victim, the IRS suggests:

  • Don’t carry around your Social Security card or any documents with that number or individual taxpayer identification number on it.
  • Only give your Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification numbers to a business when it is required, not just because you are asked.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, by mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know whom you are dealing with.
  • Keep personal information secured at home, which includes protecting sensitive information on your computer by using firewalls, anti-spam and anti-virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.

If you believe you may be at risk for identity theft because of a recent lost or stolen purse or wallet, suspicious credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, ext. 245

Also, fill out an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039 and follow the directions on the back of the form. If you have received an IRS notice and you suspect your identity was fraudulently used, contact the number on the notice.

Also if you are a victim close any accounts that may have been tampered or fraudulently opened, contact your local police department and file a report, notify the Federal Trade Commission and contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Other resources:

Vigilance is the best ID theft insurance [The Oregonian]

10 ways to become a victim of tax identity theft [Forbes]

Top tips every taxpayer should know about identity theft [IRS]

— Everton Bailey Jr.

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