Protect Your Identity
Tips to protect yourself against ID theft
- Don't carry your Social Security card or any document featuring your Social Security number
- Only provide your Social Security number when absolutely necessary, and question why it is needed and how it will be used before providing it.
- Protect your financial information; shred or burn bank and credit card statements rather than simply throwing them in the trash or recycling.
- Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Use automatic updates. Encrypt your tax returns and other sensitive data. Use strong passwords.
- Beware of phishing emails purporting to be from your financial institution or a tax software company. A link may take you to a fake website that is designed to steal your log-on information. The attachment you open may include a program that allows a cyber-thief to get access to sensitive files on your computer.
- Beware of phone scams from criminals posing as trusted organizations. If you get a call from an aggressive or belligerent person who says you will be sued or jailed if you don’t make an immediate payment, that person is a fraud. The Department of Revenue will have sent you many letters before you ever receive a phone call, and even then the call will only discuss your payment options. If you need to make sure a call is legitimate, you can always just hang up and then call the Department of Revenue directly at 717-787-8201.
- Shred your old tax returns and documents with your name, address, bank account numbers and credit card information.
- Check your credit report at least every 12 months. You can do so for free once a year by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Know your tax preparer. If you like to file your return online, start at www.revenue.pa.gov or at IRS.gov. If you like to file using installed software, buy your software from a trusted retailer, or by going directly (not clicking a link) to your preferred software company’s website. If you use an accountant, make sure it’s someone you know will be available after the filing deadline date. Do not let any preparer take your refund and then pay you directly.
Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft