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Identity theft has become a big problem in the United States. In 2015, 13.1 million people were victims of identity theft. The following year, thieves stole the identities of about 15.4 million people. Instead of getting better, the problem seems to affect more consumers every year.
Identity theft has also turned into a huge problem for the IRS. Stolen documents make it relatively easy for criminals to take your identity and your tax refund. Since tax identity theft isn’t going to disappear, consumers should look for ways to protect themselves.
Near the beginning of 2016, the IRS released a statement saying that it had identified more than 42,000 potentially fraudulent tax returns. The revenue service estimates that the scammers collected $227 million in fraudulent funds.
Once someone steals your tax identity or refund check, it’s difficult to reclaim the things you own. The good news is that the IRS managed to prevent $180.6 million in fraudulent refunds. Still, about 42,000 people were negatively affected by tax identity theft.
The IRS has gotten better at recognizing fraudulent tax returns before it distributes checks to filers. Unless the IRS can eliminate the possibility of tax identity theft, though, you should know about some of the most effective tools for protecting yourself.
Some of the most popular tools:
These tools work well because they focus on the features that matter most. For instance, all of them offer credit monitoring from all three major credit bureaus. If your credit rating changes suddenly, then you will get an alert so you can look at the situation and determine whether someone has stolen your identity.
The best tax identity theft tools will also monitor the internet for your Social Security number. Scammers who commit tax identity theft often sell Social Security numbers on black market websites. Identity theft tools can scan known websites. If they find your number, they will alert you to the problem.
When choosing a reliable tool to protect yourself from tax identity theft, make sure you compare prices and features so you can get a good deal on the services you need. In today’s world, you can’t overprotect your personal information. You can, however, find a security company that will do the job for a fair price.