Contributed By: Jon Freeman

The week of January 29 – February 2 is Tax Related Identity Theft Awareness Week. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security Number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. You may be unaware that this has happened until you file your return and discover that a return already has been filed using your Social Security Number.

Below are some things the IRS recommends doing to reduce your risk of tax-related identity theft.

• Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protection.
• Use strong passwords.
• Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls, and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card companies and even the IRS.
• Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
• Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

To find more information about federal income taxes you can visit the IRS website. Remember that you can get personal financial information from the Gwinnett Library’s GCPL Personal Finance Guide.