At a glance: How to avoid tax refund fraud

Courtesy of the Associated Press

As the April 15 tax filing deadline approaches, tax refund fraud is a growing problem. Here are tips from the federal government on how to avoid becoming a victim and how to respond if you have become one.



  • Don't carry your Social Security card or documents that show your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
  • Don't give a business your Social Security number just because someone asks. Give it only when required.
  • Check your credit report every 12 months.
  • Secure personal information in your home.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don't give personal information over the phone, through the mail or online unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.


  • If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.
  • If you did not receive an IRS notice but believe you've been a victim, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245.
  • Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338.
  • File a report with the local police.
  • Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax -, 800-525-6285; Experian -, 888-397-3742; TransUnion -, 800-680-7289.
  • Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

For more information: