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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Tax-Related Identity Theft – What’s Being Done & How Taxpayers Can Help

Taxes. Security. Together.  All of us have a role to play.

Iowa taxpayers will see better protections against tax-related identity theft this filing season.

When criminals steal your personal data (especially your name and Social Security number), they can use that information to file a fraudulent tax return.  That’s referred to as tax-related identity theft.

Real progress has been made, but more must be done.  Increasingly, sophisticated and organized syndicates are committing these crimes.  As the criminals evolve, so must we.

That’s why the IRS, the Iowa Department of Revenue (IDR) and other state revenue agencies, and the tax filing software industry have joined forces to work together to combat tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. This coalition called the “Security Summit” has announced stronger protections for taxpayers and the nation’s tax system that will go into effect for the upcoming tax season. The Security Summit has designed protections to reduce the chances that you’ll become the victim of tax-related identity theft.

What’s changing for you?

The new measures attack tax-related identity theft from all sides. Most changes will be invisible to you. Here are some important changes you may see:

  • There will be new security requirements when you’re preparing your taxes online, especially when you sign in to your account, to better protect your account and personal information. 
  • Like the IRS, IDR is doing more to verify identities before issuing refunds.  In some cases a taxpayer who requested a direct deposit of a refund will receive a paper check in the mail. This is one of many steps IDR is taking to assure that refunds go only to the intended taxpayer and not to a criminal.

We need your help

While we’re working to strengthen tax-filing security, we’re also asking taxpayers to take steps to help protect their information. To help prevent criminals from stealing your refund:

  • Protect your personal and financial information online and at home.
  • Use security software such as a firewall or anti-virus/malware protection.
  • Encrypt sensitive files.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, texts or calls. Criminals will pose as a trusted organization or friend to try to trick you into sharing passwords, Social Security Numbers or account numbers.
  • Never click a link or download an attachment from an unknown or suspicious source.
  • Remember the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not contact taxpayers by email, text or social media, if the IRS needs information, it will first contact a taxpayer by mail; taxpayers that receive emails or calls claiming to be from the IRS should forward the messages to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov or call the IRS directly at 1 (800) 908-4490.

For a brief overview of steps people can take to protect themselves, see IRS Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.