Stay Vigilant to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft this Holiday Season
With the 2022 tax season rapidly approaching and the holidays in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers to be vigilant in protecting sensitive financial information from identity thieves.
The IRS warns that taxpayers face a heightened risk in the coming months as fraudsters continue to use the pandemic as a way of tricking people into sharing sensitive personal information by email, text message and online. Identity thieves can use that information to try filing tax returns and stealing refunds.
As the IRS and other agencies have increased their joint defenses against identity theft, fraudsters have increasingly looked for ways to obtain sensitive personal financial information to help slip past common defenses. They can mimic the IRS and others in the tax community with fake emails, texts, and online scams. These schemes can lurk underneath COVID-related messages, stimulus payments or tax refunds. And they can frequently use recent tragedies or charitable groups to coax people into sharing sensitive financial data.
Here are some tips to keep your data and identity secure:
- Use security software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
- Avoid phishing scams, especially related to tax refunds and COVID-19, Economic Impact Payments, and other tax law changes.
- Use strong and unique passwords for all accounts.
- Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
- Shop only secure websites; look for the “https” in web addresses and the padlock icon; avoid shopping on unsecured and public Wi-Fi in places like coffee shops, malls, or restaurants.
- Be careful about making charitable donations to unfamiliar nonprofits, especially one that asks you to pay by gift card or wire transfer.
- Get an Identity Protection PIN or IP PIN (at IRS.gov/ippin), which is a six-digit code known only to the individual and the IRS. It provides another layer of protection for taxpayers’ Social Security numbers on tax returns.
- Business owners should stay knowledgeable on the latest security practices – find more information in the “Business” section at IRS.gov/identitytheft.
If you believe you may be a victim of identity theft, consult the resources available on the IRS and FTC.