As Americans begin the process of filing tax
returns, identity thieves are scheming to get their
hands on that money, the Adirondack Trust Co.
warned during Identity Theft Awareness Week
Tax identity theft has been the most common
form of identity theft reported to the Federal
Trade Commission for the past five years, bank
“Identity thieves look for every opportunity
to steal your information, especially during tax
season,” said Charles V. Wait Jr., executive vice
president. “Consumers should be on high alert
and take every step they can to protect their
personal and financial information.”
Tax identity fraud takes place when a criminal
files a false tax return using a stolen Social
Security number in order to fraudulently claim
the refund. Identity thieves generally file false
claims early in the year and victims are unaware
until they file a return and learn one has already
been filed in their name.
To help consumers prevent tax ID fraud, the
Adirondack Trust Co. offered the following tips:
• File early. File a tax return as soon as possible,
giving criminals less time to use information to
file a false return.
• File on a protected Wi-Fi network. If using
an online service to file your return, be sure it is
a password-protected personal network. Avoid
using public networks like a Wi-Fi hotspot at a
• Use a secure mailbox. If filing by mail, drop
the tax return at the post office or an official
postal box instead of a mailbox at home. Some
criminals look for completed tax return forms in
home mailboxes during tax season.
• Find a trusted tax preparer trust. Get
recommendations and research a tax preparer
thoroughly before handing over financial information.
• Shred what you don’t need. Once a tax return
is completed, shred the sensitive documents that
aren’t needed and safely file away necessary ones.
• Beware of phishing scams by email, text or
phone. Scammers may try to solicit sensitive
information by impersonating the IRS. Know that
the IRS will not contact people by email, text or
social media. If the IRS needs information, they
will make contact by mail first.
• Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters
look for W-2s, tax refunds or other mail containing
financial information. If W-2s aren’t received
from an employer, and the employer indicates
they’ve been mailed, or it looks like it has been
previously opened upon delivery, contact the IRS
If a person believe they are a victim of tax
identity theft or if the IRS denies a tax return
because one has previously been filed under a
the filer’s name, alert the IRS Identity Protection
Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
In addition, bank officials said, people should:
• Respond immediately to any IRS notice
and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft
• Close any accounts opened without permission
or tampered with.
• Contact the three major credit bureaus to
place a fraud alert on credit records: Equifax,
www.Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285; Experian,
www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742; and TransUnion,
• Continue to pay taxes and file a tax return,
even if by paper.