COLUMBIA – Scammers are waiting for the Jan. 31 W-2 deadline to pass so they can start making their rounds.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs urges consumers to be on guard against tax-time identity theft. 37 SC consumers reported being victims of some type of tax ID theft in 2022, and 33 specifically reported that someone had already used their Social Security number to file. This is the most common form of tax fraud.
1st officer: Alex Murdaugh didn’t cry over dead wife and son
These tips can help consumers protect their refund and personal information this tax season:
- File early. File as early as possible. The IRS and the SCDOR are now accepting 2022 Individual Income Tax Returns. Identity thieves use consumer information to file fraudulent tax returns and steal refunds before the individual files.
- Watch out for IRS and tax imposter scams. Fraudsters often pose as the IRS or even as SCDOR to trick you into disclosing personal information or sending money. Remember: the IRS will not call about taxes without sending a notice through the mail first. Report IRS imposter scams to the Treasury Department. For more on how to avoid tax scams, visit SCDCA’s tax scams spotlight.
- File online in safety. When filing online, use anti-virus software and ensure the computer is connected to a secure internet connection. Use strong and unique passwords and enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Do not use public Wi-Fi. There are several websites that allow certain taxpayers to prepare and file their taxes for free, such as the IRS Free File program and the options from the SCDOR.
- Get an Identity Protection PIN. Taxpayers who can verify their identities may opt into the IRS IP PIN program, a free added layer of protection. The ID Protection PIN is a six-digit code known only to the individual and the IRS. Use the Get an Identity Protection PIN tool to immediately get an IP PIN. Never share the IP PIN with anyone but a trusted tax provider.
- Use a legitimate tax preparer. Consumers should make sure their preparer is reputable, licensed and has a Preparer Tax Identification Number from the IRS. Visit www.irs.gov or call 800-906-9887 to see if you qualify for free tax prep services provided by IRS-certified volunteers.
- For more information on tax fraud and scams, visit SCDCA’s Scam page. Consumers who believe they are the victim of a security breach, scam or identity theft are encouraged to seek guidance from SCDCA’s Identity Theft Unit. Call (844) TELL DCA (835-5322) or fill out an ID Theft Intake form by visiting consumer.sc.gov and clicking on Report Identity Theft.
Established in 1974, DCA has nearly 50 years of experience in protecting South Carolina consumers while recognizing those businesses that act honestly and fairly. Cultivating a marketplace comprised of well-informed consumers and businesses prevents deceptive and unfair business practices, allows legitimate business activity to flourish, resulting in the promotion of competition and a healthier economy.