Tax season is upon us. Good or bad, it comes around every year. This year, more than ever, we want to reach out to residents and warn you of tax scams and identity theft.

Remember that big Equifax hack last year that exposed as many as 143 million Social Security numbers? All someone needs is your name, birthday and Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return refund and steal your money.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening? Experts are saying to file early! Once the IRS receives a tax return with a particular name and Social Security number, it will not accept any other returns with the same information. Also consider e-filing. When you e-file your tax return, not only does it instantly arrive at the IRS, but you get an acknowledgment of receipt back from the agency. If there’s a problem with your return (such as a fraudster having already filed one for you), you’ll also be notified quickly of the nature of the issue — which means you can deal with it fast.

Also, know the warning signs. Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if you are contacted by the IRS or your tax professional/provider about any of the following scenarios:

  • More than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number.
  • You owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work.

Remember 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.

Learn more! From 6:30 to 7:30PM on Mon., Feb. 12, at the Municipal Center and from 1 to 2PM Wed., Feb. 21, at the 95th Street Library, the Naperville Police Department will be presenting information on identity theft. Different forms of identity theft and prevention tactics will be discussed.

For more information, please visit www.naperville.il.us/asafernaper.

Until next month, stay aware and stay safe.