Identity theft sweep brings attention to tax season security concerns

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2012

(ARA) – Tax time has a reputation for being almost universally stressful. As financial information starts to fly between individuals, tax preparers and the IRS, concerns about personal security are rising.
In late January, the federal government conducted a nationwide sweep to crack down on identity theft and tax fraud before the 2012 tax season. The timing of the effort was meant to stem the rising tide of fraudulent tax activity, which involves using stolen identities to file for tax refunds. In 2011, the IRS found as many as 260,000 identity theft fraud attempts, up from 49,000 in 2010.
While the IRS is taking action to help taxpayers avoid identity theft problems – ranging from cutting down on the use of Social Security numbers on IRS-generated notices to providing YouTube videos about fraud prevention – it’s important for individuals to take steps to protect themselves.
Your credit report serves as snapshot of your financial profile, and it’s one of the first places fraudulent activity will show up. Consider subscribing to a credit monitoring service like Equifax Complete that provides 24/7 credit monitoring and alerts you about key changes to your credit file.