Tax and W-2 Protection
It’s tax season—prime time for scammers to try to steal your private information. From receiving a call from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at home to getting an email from a "colleague" at work, scammers have no shortage of tricks up their sleeve. This fraudulent practice of obtaining information through intentional misrepresentation is called phishing.
Check out the IRS’s Identity Theft Central for updated information on recent scams, how to protect yourself from identity theft and what to do if you are a victim.
It’s important to stay alert for phishing scams and always be suspicious of any request for personal information or money transfers until you can confirm it independently. Victims of phishing scams may suffer identity theft which can lead to serious consequences. Here are a few red flags to watch for:
- The sender's name is vague and the sender’s email address is long or convoluted
- The email’s subject line is attention-grabbing or alarmist
- The email urges immediate action of some kind
- An offer of a major discount is dangled
- The email cites some pretense for seeking your personal information, including log-in information to a website
- The email urges you to click hyperlinked text without clarifying where you are clicking
- A corporate executive or colleague who is requesting urgent, sensitive information such as W-2 forms, earnings summaries, employee or client lists and fund transfers
If you receive a suspicious or phishing email, follow these steps immediately:
- Do not click on any links or open any attachments within the message. Do not reply to the suspicious email or use a phone number or other contact information in the email.
- If you already replied to a suspicious email, clicked on an attachment or link, or provided personal information, go to IdentityTheft.gov, there you’ll see the specific steps to take based on the information that you lost. If your company has an IT team, report it to them as well.
- Enable two-factor authentication on your personal email program (if available).
- Forward the email to your personal email provider (check with your email provider for instructions). You can also report the issue to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint and forward the email to email@example.com. If the email is ADP brand abuse, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on how to avoid being a victim, review the IRS’s tax fraud alerts to stay updated on the latest scams.
5 Ways to Prevent Tax Refund Theft
Even if you change your password daily and it’s extremely complex, it is still possible for hackers to gain access to your personal information, like your Social Security number and birthdate. It is critical to take extra precautions to further protect your identity and your tax return.
Below are 5 ways to prevent tax refund theft:
- File ASAP: As soon as you have everything you need to file, make sure you do. This way, if someone tries to file a return in your name later, it'll be automatically denied as a duplicate.
- Keep your online information secure: With the amount of information that you share online, you must make it a priority to adequately secure it.
- Do not use the same password across multiple accounts.
- Use strong, lengthy passwords that are unique and consist of numbers and symbols. Use phrases or groups of words.
- Consider using an online password manager.
- Stay vigilant for phishing emails and texts: If you get an email or text that seems suspicious, asks you for information, or wants you to click on a link – don’t click or open attachments. Even if the email seems to be from a legitimate organization or a friend, hover over links to view the URL before you proceed.
- Be alert to tax scams: Neither the IRS nor ADP will ever call to threaten you or to demand immediate payment with a specific payment method. Nor will they demand you pay taxes with no questions asked or the right to appeal. If you get such a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, someone from ADP or a tax preparation firm, it's likely a scam. Hang up and call the IRS, report it to your HR Department, or contact the business in question to confirm.
- Due Diligence: When choosing a tax preparer or online tax service, make sure you choose a reputable service that makes information security a priority. Ask for personal recommendations from people you trust.