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IRS Criminal Investigation: Tips to prevent stolen property, identity theft during tax return filing

Tax season is here and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) issued tips on how to protect your wallet and identity when filing your forms.

>> MORE: IRS heads into new tax season with backlog from previous year

IRS-CI urged taxpayers to take that extra step to protect themselves and their property.

IRS-CI offered these tips to follow:

  • Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round.
  • Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid preparers are required to have one.
  • Don’t use a ghost preparer. They won’t sign a tax return they prepare for you.
  • Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. All taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.
  • Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.
  • Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank account, not your tax preparer’s.
  • The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up, it’s a scam!
  • Don’t respond to or click links in text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that could compromise your personal information.
  • Protect your personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS.
  • Report fraud to law enforcement. Submit Form 3949-A, Information Referral, if you suspect an individual or a business is committing fraud.

“Each year, criminals have used tax season as an opportunity to commit fraud and steal from the public,” IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent In Charge for Cincinnati Field Office Bryant Jackson said. “Educating yourself can help prevent you from becoming a victim of tax fraud.”