Between organizing all the necessary documents, making sure everything is as it should be, and trying to determine the exact benefits for which they will be eligible, most consumers probably think tax filing season is hectic enough every year without having to worry about the threat of criminals gaining access to their vital personal or financial information. For that reason, the Federal Trade Commission is now trying to educate consumers about the potential threat they face with a special event.
The week of Jan. 13-17 has been deemed by the FTC to be Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, because of how quickly this type of crime has spread in the last few years alone, according to a report from the federal watchdog agency. For example, it will hold a number of events nationwide, as well as webinars and Twitter talks about the ways in which consumers will be able to better spot potential schemes designed to obtain their Social Security numbers or other sensitive data, and therefore potentially avoid them before they're victimized by the crime. It is also trying to let people know how they can report incidents of such problems to the proper authorities so that others who might be similarly affected in their areas.
tips did they provide?
One of the biggest tips the agency can provide is that consumers should get their tax forms completed and submitted to the IRS as soon in the filing season as possible, to avoid the potential for time to pass so that criminals can hatch their fraud plans, the report said. Along similar lines, the IRS will only contact consumers through the mail - never by phone, email, or any other means - and any inquiries received should likewise be answered as quickly as possible before they're intercepted or otherwise compromised. For those who think their personal information has already been compromised, it's vital to let the IRS know as soon as possible so that they can be added to the long and growing list of people who have been affected by such crime, and for whom special filing considerations must be made.
Finally, it might also be wise for consumers to consult with a tax professional about the best ways in which they can safely file, to avoid any potential hiccups they may encounter.
Disclaimer: Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.