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Consumers Are Reminded to Protect Information When Filing Taxes

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds consumers to be cautious and to protect personal information when preparing and filing the necessary tax documents this year.

Sensitive information like Social Security numbers, finances, birthdays and addresses are some of the many things scammers could easily use to their advantage.

“Scammers know tax season comes at the same time every year,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “They could be waiting in the wings to take advantage of the available information. That’s why it’s extremely important to be mindful of how you handle the information and who handles it on your behalf.”

Consumers can greatly reduce the risk of fraud by filing their return well before the deadline. This gives thieves less time to file a false return since IRS records would show a return in the consumer’s name has already been filed. They also should use a secure Internet connection and never file their return 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 suspicious emails that look legitimate, however are meant to steal personal information.
  • Know the Internal Revenue Service does not contact taxpayers via text message, email or social media.
  • Be aware that unsuspecting victims of tax-related identity theft often receive a letter from the IRS saying it received multiple tax returns filed in the victim’s name or indicate the taxpayer received wages from an employer he or she doesn’t know.

Anyone who receives 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.

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