Tax season is prime time for criminals to steal personal data, and the National Credit Union Administration is reminding credit union members to educate themselves on how to recognize the signs of tax-related identity theft.
Last year, the IRS identified 14,068 fraudulent tax returns with $918.6 million claimed in fraudulent refunds, according to an audit report from the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration.
MyCreditUnion.gov provides useful information to help members protect themselves and take action if they believe they have been victims of tax identity theft or an IRS imposter scam. Below are 5 steps you can take to prevent tax identity theft.
What Steps Can You Take To Prevent Tax Identity Theft?
Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS.
What’s an IP PIN? An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers that helps prevent the misuse of your Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns. You can’t use the IP PIN as your e-file signature PIN. You can learn more about an IP PIN from the IRS.
Check your mail and credit union account statements every month.
If you discover an account you did not open, balance discrepancy, or a purchase you did not make, contact the financial institution or creditor immediately to report the activity.
Monitor your credit reports on a regular basis.
Do you really know what’s on your credit report? Why it matters? Or, how to obtain your three free credit reports annually? You can find answers to these questions and more about credit reports and credit scores in NCUA’s Credit Reports and Credit Scores learning center.
Talk to your credit union about the identity theft resources they may offer.
Most credit unions offer or partner with companies that offer services and materials to help their members safeguard their accounts.
MyCreditUnion.gov and Pocket Cents, NCUA’s financial literacy microsite, offer a wide range of informational articles on finance, fraud prevention, as well as multiple financial tools and resources. Keep up to date with current hot topics on fraud prevention, savings, and debt reduction.
What can you do if you feel you’ve been the victim of identity theft? Go to https://www.identitytheft.gov for more info.