Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Outsmart Tax Theives This Filing Season

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Outsmart Tax Theives This Filing Season

Article excerpt

Tax software makers and service providers are offering new layers of security this tax season, says Consumer Reports. You may find shorter shutdown times after inactivity, for example, and fewer chances to try again after a login error.

Users of TaxSlayer, TurboTax and other services will have the option to use a unique login code along with the usual ID and password. The updates reflect a coordinated effort by the Internal Revenue Service, states and the tax-prep industry to prevent fraud involving pilfered Social Security numbers.

According to Consumer Reports, thieves usually claim tax refunds by filing returns before their victims do. So another way to protect yourself is to file long before the tax deadline, which is Monday, April 18, this year (April 19 in Maine and Massachusetts).

What Victims Can Do

You may not know you've been a victim of tax-related ID theft until you get an IRS notice. It may say that you collected wages from an employer you don't recognize, for example, or that your Social Security number has been used on more than one return.

Report incidents of ID theft to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov. Then set up a fraud alert with one of the three big credit bureaus -- Equifax (equifax.com/ creditreportassistance, 888-766- 0008); Experian (experian.com/fraudalert, 888-397-3742); or TransUnion (transunion.com/fraud, 800-680-7289). The bureau you choose will share your alert with the other two; all three will give you a free credit report. You can also request that the bureaus issue security freezes to prevent any new credit from being issued without your permission.

At irs.gov, fill out Form 14039, an Identity Theft Affidavit. The IRS will issue you an "identity protection personal identification number" (IP PIN) intended to prevent further fraud. …

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