Keeping your information safe during tax season

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Tax season is coming soon, and you need to keep your information safe.

One financial identity fraud has already been reported in Jonesboro. An elderly couple received a letter saying they owed back taxes costing $11,002.46.

Tax agencies say they see fraud cases like this far too often.

“People will get a text message from a person in Florida saying send me a screen shot of your W2, we can get your taxes filed,” Stephen Northcutt, H&R Block tax specialist said.

“We've also had a doctor who was notified by the IRS that someone had tried to file on his social security number,” Sherry Stringer, partner at Jones & Co., LTD said.

Those are just two cases agencies have seen. Stringer said it's all about protecting your information.

“We recommend people really protect their social security number,” Stringer said.

Any personal information you give out over the phone or the internet could be used against you.

“Really bank statements, anything with personal financial information, invest in a small personal shredder,” Stringer said.

With the rise in tax fraud, the IRS has precautions in place.

“When the IRS knows you have had identity theft issues, a lot of times they will issue that specific person a pin number and that goes on their tax return that year,” Northcutt said.

There is a form you fill out if you are a victim of tax fraud. Northcutt said the IRS is never going to call you for information.

“They will send a letter,” Northcutt said. “So if you get a bold face call and they say they are the IRS asking for your social, date of birth, never give those out over the phone.”

“Likely if you get that call it's a scam,” Stringer said.

Northcutt said the elderly can be a target because they aren't always aware of scammers, but Stringer said anyone can become a victim.

“Targets are children because if they can get your child's social security number they can file a return, also people who are deceased,” Stringer said.

Both Stringer and Northcutt encourage anyone who receives suspicious mail or phone calls to call the IRS directly before giving out any information.

The IRS offers further tips on how to protect yourself form identity fraud on their

.

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