2021 brings new tax identity theft threats, BBB advises to file early

Tax season starts Friday Feb. 12, 2021

"Tax Identity Theft" Warning
"Tax Identity Theft" Warning

Tax filings start Friday, Feb. 12 and the Better Business Bureau recommends you file sooner rather than later. There’s a risk that comes with waiting and the BBB calls it tax identity theft.

Someone could use your social security number to file a phony tax return and collect your refund. You won’t know the identity theft happened until you file and the IRS rejects it as a duplicate filing.

Another way someone can fall victim to tax identity theft is IRS impersonation scams. A person may call you about owing taxes and demand you pay immediately with a gift card or prepaid debit card. Other times it’s an email with a link for you to add your personal information to.

“So there’s a lot of ways people use the IRS name to get your attention, it gets your attention for sure but typically the IRS is going to contact you by mail first with any issue that there is,” said president and CEO of BBB Serving Western Virginia Julie Wheeler.

Wheeler said this year, because of the pandemic there are new identity theft threats like small business loans, federal stimulus pay and unemployment, cybercriminal are filing using other people’s information. According to BBB in 2020 there were 394, 280 reports about government benefits fraud. The year before, 219, there were only 12,900 reports.

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