Identity theft occurs all year, but the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) warns people to be especially vigilant during tax season. Combating tax fraud is a top priority for the Department, which is always working to put protections in place to protect the public from identity thieves and scammers.
Recent scams involve fraudsters impersonating tax employees via phone calls, emails, or text messages in order to get sensitive information such as Social Security Numbers (SSNs), passwords, or banking information. Other methods of identity theft include card-skimming devices, unprotected Wi-Fi networks, data breaches, computer viruses, risky smartphone apps, and hacking email accounts.
The information obtained by thieves is utilized to file a fake tax return. Taxpayers may be unaware of this until they file their taxes and discover another has been filed using the same SSN. Even if you are a victim, you may experience refund delays if you are required to provide paperwork as evidence of identity in order to process your return.
Ten suggestions to assist you to avoid being a victim of identity theft:
- Carry no identification with your SSN on it.
- If you are asked for your Social Security number, always ask why because it is not always necessary.
- Personal and private information should be kept in a safe place.
- When dumping sensitive or private material, take extreme safeguards.
- Anti-virus software should be used to protect personal computers, cellphones, and other devices.
- Do not open emails that include unusual links, photos, or files. Hover over links and look at the bottom left corner of the browser to verify the correct URL before clicking.
- Use strong passwords and never share them. Keep in mind that you should change your passwords at least every 90 days.
- Personal information should never be sent over unencrypted email, social media, or text messaging.
- Check your credit report once a year.
- Check and double-check your bank and Social Security Administration statements.
The Arizona Department of Revenue encourages taxpayers to file early and to take precautions to secure their personal information.
This tax season, the ADOR’s Criminal Investigation Unit is clamping down on tax evaders. Companies were targeted in a recent W-2 fraud by a phishing email purporting to be from an executive asking for secret payroll information. ADOR fraud detection systems examine, check, and match against employer W-2s, the IRS, and other systems, which may take a little longer to guarantee that taxpayers rather than fraudsters receive their money.
If you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, please contact the Department of Revenue’s Identification Theft Call Center at (602) 716-6300, toll-free at 844-817-9691, or visit https://azdor.gov/individual-income-tax-information/identity-theft.
If you believe someone is stealing your unemployment benefits, follow our advice and call the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
In the previous five years, the Arizona Department of Revenue’s fraud detection system has prevented more than $83 million in bogus tax returns.