|Fighting Back Against Tax-Refund Fraud
Tax refund fraud is running rampant in Florida. It is a form of identity theft that occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund. This happened to a couple of our clients last year. Because the amount of tax fraud in Florida is escalating, the IRS is providing help so you can protect yourself. Residents of Florida can opt for an Identity Protection PIN to use with their tax return. We recommend that you do this - it is totally free, just takes a few minutes, and is available on the IRS web site.
What is Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)?
An IP PIN is a 6-digit number used to verify a taxpayer's identity. It helps prevent fraudulent tax returns from occurring by adding another layer of security.
Check your Eligibility
Do you live in Florida? Good news, you're eligible! Since Florida has such a high amount of tax refund fraud, they were chosen along with Georgia and the District of Columbia to be the first taxpayers in the country to be automatically eligible for this new program.
If you don't live in Florida, Georgia, or the District of Columbia you may still be eligible. You may also qualify if you have been a victim of identity theft before and have received a CP01A notice or an IRS letter inviting you to opt-in to get an IP PIN.
Gather your Information
Once you've determined you're eligible, make sure you have all of the information you need on hand for a smooth signup process. You will need:
- Social Security number
- Date of Birth
- Email address
- Filing Status
- Mailing address from your most recently filed return
Get your IP PIN!
Make sure you have access to your email account so you can confirm your email address and then it's time to get started! Visit Get An IP PIN
and answer some personal, financial, and tax related questions to confirm your identity. You'll create a user ID and password to save time on future visits. The IRS will mail you the IP PIN and/or you can login to the Get An IP PIN site to get your code.
Things to Keep in Mind
Once you opt-in you must use your IP PIN on all future tax returns. Each year in late December or early January you will be mailed a new IP PIN for your use. Before deciding to go this route, talk to your accountant about whether or not this is the right option for you.
More Ways to Protect Yourself from Tax-Refund Fraud
Whether you're eligible or not, you should try to protect yourself in as many ways as possible against an opponent as strong as tax refund fraud. Here are some more security measures you should be sure to implement this tax season:
- Guard your personal data. Don't routinely carry your Social Security card and do not email it to anyone.
- File your tax return as promptly as possible.
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections on any computers and make sure these are turned on and update automatically.
- Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong passwords.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card provider or even the IRS.
- Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
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