No one is safe from Identity Theft or Fraud; in 2013 the top law enforcement officer in the land, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, was the victim of identity theft and tax refund fraud.
However, there are steps you can take to guard against identity theft. Please review the resources available on our website, and the information provided by the IRS – Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection, and Victim Assistance.
How to Protect – You
Here are a few steps you can take to protect your identity.
- Review your Credit Report regularly (www.annualcreditreport.com is the only federally authorized website)
- Understand Child Identity Theft and how it can affect your family
- File your taxes early
- Be cautious of phone calls, letters, or emails asking for your Social Security Number
- Follow password security best practices when choosing a password and change the passwords for your accounts regularly
Should I still file my return?
It is more important than ever that you file early. If a criminal has stolen your personal information, the criminal will try to use it to file your return before you do. Your legitimate return is your—and the Department’s— best defense against tax fraud.
Should I Avoid Using Tax Preparation Software?
There have been well publicized data breaches in recent years at national stores, insurance companies, local merchants –the list is endless. You should carefully review the security features of any tax preparation services that you are considering, and you should contact the vendor directly with questions and concerns, particularly about the security of your past-filed returns. Please know that the Department also receives fraudulent paper returns.
We encourage you to file your return online to ensure a speedy and accurate return.
E-filing is still far superior to filing a paper return. Electronic filings allow us to quickly and accurately process your refund. There is no evidence that e-filing is causing identity theft. You should always make certain that any online transaction involving your personal information is secure, and tax preparation vendors are adopting best practices such as multiple methods of identification before you can access your account.
How We Communicate with You
We send out letters and bills to taxpayers using the United States Postal Service only. The Department also communicates with taxpayers through email and by telephone in response to a taxpayer inquiry or to obtain additional information or documentation needed to process a tax return.
You should regard as suspicious any emails or phone calls claiming to be the Vermont Department of Taxes and be aware of the possibility of fraud. When Department representatives contact taxpayers, they will not ask for Social Security Numbers. They may reference a recent tax return and will be very specific about what is needed to process the return. If in doubt, do not hesitate to disconnect the call and call the Department at the number we publish on this website to verify the communication you received is genuine.
Be in The Know
Identity thieves and scam artists are always thinking of new ways to trick unsuspecting taxpayers. You should be on guard against email and phone scams, which are particularly common during tax season. For example, taxpayers have reported scams demanding immediate payment for taxes owed or requesting personal information.
If your personal information has been compromised, go to the Federal Trade Commission’s webpage for a checklist on what to do to protect yourself.