6 On Your Side Answers: How is the IRS cutting down on fraud?

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It’s only the third week in January, but already tax preparing services are beginning to advertise.

Identify thieves watch the calendar too and they can’t wait to get their hands on your tax return.

Laura from Jefferson City asks: “I file my taxes early. What is being done to cut down on fraud?”

The Internal Revenue Service is taking additional steps this tax season to protect you and prevent refund fraud.

The IRS has thousands of employees working on identify theft cases and there are over 30,000 employees who work with taxpayers to provide assistance when ID theft occurs.

All a person needs is your name and Social Security number to do a lot of damage, such as opening new credit card accounts in your name with the thief’s address.

So what can you do to protect your identity?

“Be sure you have a secure server by which you are sending your information,” said Jerry Tipton, president of the Better Business Bureau. If the connection is not secure, Tipton says it’s open to anybody to steal your information.

Some people called the 6 On Your Side hotline saying the IRS had called or sent an email wanting some information, but Tipton says that’s not how the IRS operates.

“They will never email or call you,” he said. “They will send you a letter. That is the only way they communicate.”

He also says to choose your tax preparer carefully, especially with a lot of new companies cropping up.

“The advice would be to use someone who is local and been around for a while. Check their records. There is nothing wrong with new companies, but many times they hire temporaries. They’re here only for the season, and then they are gone,” said Tipton.

If your personal information is compromised, immediately call the IRS ID Theft Protection Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

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