Be Alert to Tax Return Fraud

R.O.S.E., Resources/Outreach to Safeguard the Elderly

It’s tax season! That means it’s also time for tax return fraud. This type of fraud is a pervasive issue that can wreak havoc on your finances and leave you dealing with the fallout for months or even years. Did you know that the IRS flagged over $5 billion in fraudulent tax returns last year? And that does not include the fraudulent payments that were actually made!

This type of fraud occurs when someone uses your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund under your name. While tax return fraud can happen to anyone, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and minimize the risk of becoming a target.

As always, safeguarding your personal information is paramount. Be cautious about sharing sensitive details such as your Social Security number, date of birth, and financial information. Only provide this information to trusted entities and avoid sharing it over unsecured networks or websitessuch as public Wi-Fi and as a response to a text message or email. And remember, it’s rare for the IRS to call you to ask for information.

It helps to file your tax return early. By submitting your return promptly, you reduce the window of opportunity for fraudsters to file a fake return using your information.

Regularly monitor your financial accounts and review your credit report for any suspicious activity. Many financial institutions offer tools, like credit freezes, and alerts to notify you of any unusual transactions or inquiries.

Consider additional security measures when filing your taxes, such as using a unique PIN provided by the IRS or utilizing secure online tax preparation services. These extra layers of protection can make it more difficult for fraudsters to access your information and file a fraudulent return.

Stay up to date on common tax scams and phishing tactics. This is another crucial aspect of protecting yourself. Be wary of unsolicited communications claiming to be from the IRS or tax preparation companies, especially if they request sensitive information or payment.

Using these tips, you can protect yourself and save yourself a lot of hassle. However, if you believe you’ve been a victim of tax return fraud, act quickly. Contact the IRS, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, and consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your accounts to prevent further unauthorized activity.

Tax return fraud is a serious threat that can have significant repercussions for victims. By staying vigilant, safeguarding your personal information, and taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to this type of fraud and safeguard your financial well-being.

R.O.S.E. seeks to create change by educating and providing awareness of financial scams that typically target the older/elderly population, with a focus on those age 60 and over. For more information and resources, visit, email us at [email protected], or call us at 602-445-7673.