CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office is reminding taxpayers to exercise caution this tax season by protecting personal, identifiable information when preparing and filing tax returns.
Morrisey's office says sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, finances, birthdays and addresses are some of the many things scammers could easily use to their advantage.
“Scammers will take any chance they get to snatch your sensitive, personal, identifiable information,” Morrisey said. “It’s always important to guard your data, but especially important at this time of year as scammers know tax season affects everyone. Taxpayers should also remember that studies show those more likely to steal your information aren’t strangers, but people you know.”
Consumers can greatly reduce the risk of fraud by filing their return well before the deadline. This gives thieves less time to file a false return since IRS records would show a return in the consumer’s name has already been filed. They also should use a secure Internet connection and never file their return via publicly available wi-fi.
Additional tips include:
- Never carry a Social Security card, banking information or any other personally identifiable information in a wallet. Keep such documents in a secure location.
- Cross shred documents. Identity thieves rummage through trash to find information.
- Be wary of suspicious emails that may look legitimate, but are really a means to steal personal information. Look for typos, misspellings and bad grammar.
- Know the Internal Revenue Service does not contact taxpayers via text message, email or social media.
- A victim may learn of tax-related identify theft when he or she receives a letter from the IRS reporting it has received a return the consumer did not file, or reporting multiple returns filed under the victim’s name, or reporting that the victim received wages from an employer he or she doesn’t know.
Consumers who believe they may be the victim of tax-related identity theft are asked to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.