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Are you at risk for tax identity theft?

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Posted at 12:24 PM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 14:33:13-05

‘Tis the season for scammers to try to cash in on your tax return.  

The U.S. treasury inspector general for tax administration even set up a YouTube channel with videos warning taxpayers of the litany of scams, some even involving phone calls that threaten arrest or deportation.  

Do you think you are smarter than the criminals? See if you are on this list of people who are most at risk of tax identity theft, as compiled by H&R Block’s Michael Micheletti.

Five Types of People Most at Risk For Potential Tax Identity Theft

  1. Someone not required to file – If a taxpayer’s income is below the filing threshold and the individual does not choose to file, someone else could fraudulently file on their behalf.
  2. Those who typically don’t receive a refund – Taxpayers who do not expect a refund, or who expect to owe additional taxes, usually have little incentive to file early. But this leaves a larger window of opportunity for an identity thief to file a phony return first.
  3. Those who live in a state with no state income tax return – Taxpayers who only file a federal return don't worry about a state return, but they do open the window for a scam artist to use their information to file a state return in another state. 
  4. People with several dependents – For each name on the tax return, there is a social security number. Younger dependents won’t file their own returns for years, but scammers often hijack those numbers to file a false return.
  5. People who fail to forward mail or tell the IRS about a change of address – If W-2s are mailed to the wrong address, it gives crooks the opportunity to retrieve your information and file an income tax return.

Advice from the tax pros: Don’t give out personal information over the phone.  The IRS will typically first contact you with a letter and it will never demand immediate payment over the phone. If you think someone is trying to scam you, call the Treasury Inspector General Hotline at 1-800-366-4484.