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Identity theft protection for taxpayers in six steps

Thieves are actively working to steal the taxpayer information and identities. Everyone should do everything they can to prevent identity theft.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses a taxpayer's stolen personal information, such as a Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a false refund.

The IRS and its partners are working hard to prevent these types of crimes, and taxpayers can help by doing their part in stopping identify theft.

Here are some tips to help taxpayers protect themselves against identity theft. Taxpayers should:

• Always use security software. This software should have firewall and anti-virus protections.
 
• Use strong, unique passwords. They should also consider using a password manager.
 
 Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves. These scammers pose as legitimate organizations such as banks, credit card companies, and even the IRS.
 
• Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails or messages from unknown senders. People shouldn't click on links or download attachments from emails that seem suspicious, even if they appear to be from senders they know.
 
• Protect personal information and that of any dependents. For example, people shouldn't routinely carry around their Social Security cards. They should also make sure tax records are secure.

• Get an Identity Protection PINThe Identity Protection PIN is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS that helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayer’s personally identifiable information.

More information:
Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers
Publication 5367, Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program for Taxpayers
Identity Theft Central
Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft

(Tax Tip 2021-77)

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