CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminded consumers to protect their personal, identifiable information from potential identity thieves as they file taxes ahead of the April 15 deadline.
Sensitive information like Social Security numbers, finances, birthdays and addresses are some of the many things scammers could easily use to their advantage.
“Tax time comes around every year, and so do the scams,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Be especially careful to protect your information, shred documents as needed and keep yourself safe.”
Consumers can greatly reduce the risk of fraud by filing their returns well before the deadline. This gives thieves less time to file a false return since Internal Revenue Service records would show a filed return in the consumer’s name. Consumers also should use a secure internet connection and never file their returns via publicly available Wi-Fi.
Additional tips include:
• Never carry a Social Security card, banking information or any other personally identifiable information in a wallet. Keep such documents in a secure location.
• Cross shred documents. Identity thieves rummage through trash to find information.
• Be wary of emails that may look legitimate at first glance: check for questionable display names, email addresses, names and spelling.
• Use caution with any unsolicited phone call, text message, email or social media post as impostors will use various means to threaten consumers and steal their personal information.
A victim may learn of tax-related identify theft when he or she receives a letter from the IRS reporting it has received a return the consumer did not file, multiple returns filed under the victim’s name or reporting that the victim received wages from an employer he or she doesn’t know.
Anyone who receives such a letter from the IRS indicating potential impersonation should immediately call the agency’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
Consumers who believe they may be the victim of tax-related identity theft should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.