Do any of the following describe something you might do?

  1. If I received an email from the IRS requesting information, I would respond.
  2. If someone called saying they were an IRS agent, I'd give them my Social Security number.
  3. I'd hire a new tax preparer who promised me big refunds.
  4. There are personal details about me publicly available on social media.

If so, let's dig into why this may put you at risk for identity theft.

Be wary of requests from the "IRS"

Phone calls, texts and emails claiming to be from the IRS are often phishing schemes. Scammers reach out pretending to be the IRS in order to capture your personal information. The phone call may even show as coming from the IRS, but keep in mind, the IRS will generally mail you a letter if you owe money before calling you. An email can look like it's coming from the IRS, but don't assume it's real and don't open any links or attachments. The IRS won't contact you by phone, email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information. Contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 to verify any requests for your personal information.

Use a trusted tax preparer

If a tax preparer asks you to sign a blank return, promises you a big refund before looking at your records or charges fees based on a percentage of your refund, they may be up to no good. Most tax preparers are honest, but it's worth taking time to research the person you trust with your money and information. The IRS provides helpful tips for choosing a reputable tax preparer.

Don't post personal information on social media

If someone's going to file a fraudulent return in your name, they need three things: your name, birthdate and Social Security number. If you provide your name and birthdate on social media, especially if you also include your birthplace, it's much easier for scammers to get that third piece of information. Check your privacy settings and limit what you're sharing publicly. Also consider using a nickname and omitting your last name, birthday and birthplace.

Important information:

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.