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March 4, 2014 > Prevent tax-related identity theft

Prevent tax-related identity theft

Submitted By the Office of CA Attorney General

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has issued tips for Californians to follow to prevent tax-related identity theft as the annual tax compiling and filing process begins.

Tax-related identity theft increases in January and commonly occurs when:

Thieves use stolen personal information to file tax returns in someone elseÕs name in order to obtain a refund.

Thieves use a stolen Social Security number (SSN) for employment, which may complicate state and federal income tax obligations for the victim.

Thieves send phishing emails that look like they are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) that ask for personal information or include links to official-looking web sites.

California consumers are urged to use the following tips to better prevent tax-related identity theft:

Never open an email or a text message that says it is from the IRS or the FTB - they are always fraudulent. State and federal tax agencies never initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information or to send notice regarding audits or refunds.

ItÕs fine to show your Social Security card to your employer when you start a job or to your financial institution for tax reporting purposes. Do not routinely carry your card or other documents that display your SSN.

While preparing your tax return for electronic filing, make sure to use a strong password. A strong password is at least eight characters and includes a combination of at least three upper and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols and numerals.

Once you have e-filed your return, save it to a flash drive, CD or similar device and then delete the tax information from your hard drive. Store the CD or flash drive in a safe place, such as a lock box or safe. If working with an accountant, ask about what measures they take to protect your information.

Use a locked mailbox and donÕt leave your mail in it for long periods of time. Take your mail that contains sensitive information (bills, tax returns) to the post office.

If your SSN is stolen, reference the California Attorney GeneralÕs Identity Theft First Aid page for instructions on what to do: www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/first-aid.

You may have a tax identity theft problem if you receive a letter from the IRS or FTB stating that you/someone:
filed more than one tax return,
has already filed using your information,
have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year in which you did not file a return, or
received wages from an employer for whom you have not worked.

If you receive such a letter (not an email) from the IRS or FTB, immediately contact the agencyÕs identity theft unit:
Internal Revenue Service: phishing@irs.gov
IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit
1- (800) 908-4490
California Franchise Tax Board: www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/id_theft.shtml#ID
ID Theft Resolution Coordinator
1- (916) 845-3669

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