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Tax season opens door to identity theft

PHOENIX — Tax season means a higher threat of identity theft with personal information being shipped online and by regular mail.

Becky Frost with Experian’s ProtectMyID said identity thieves are filing other people’s tax return using the stolen personal info. When the taxpayer goes to file the legitimate return, it is kicked back with the notification the forms have already been submitted.

It can take months or years to resolve the issue with the Internal Revenue Service.

“All it takes is a W-2, a 1040 form or any other form that contains your info,” she said. “A criminal has a wealth of info to carry out ID theft.”

Frost said the IRS has received more than 600,000 complaints from people who have been victimized this year.

Stolen smartphones are a goldmine for thieves because of the personal and financial info stored on the phone. For example, tax apps. People will snap a pic of the W-2 and not delete it.

“So you have a photo of all of your sensitive information including your Social Security number,” said Frost. “Make sure you delete these pictures after you’ve used them for tax-app purposes.”