IRS offering PIN to prevent identity theft, tax refund fraud - WFLA News Channel 8

IRS offering PIN to prevent identity theft, tax refund fraud

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As the 2013 tax filing season begins, Florida taxpayers have a new tool to protect themselves from identity theft and tax refund fraud.

The Tampa Bay area has been a hotbed for the crime, in which fraudsters use someone else's name, date of birth and social security number to file a fake tax return. In recent years, they've been able to use that information to trick the government into sending out thousands in tax refunds they don't deserve.

The crime can create headaches for identity theft victims, who often spend months – or longer – straightening out the mess and waiting for their refund.

This year, taxpayers in Florida have a new option to protect themselves. The IRS is launching a new pilot program involving something called an Identity Protection PIN or IP-PIN – a special number assigned to the taxpayer to help the IRS verify the tax return is legitimate.

Previously, the IRS has assigned PINs to identity theft victims, but these new numbers can be used by individuals who have not been identity theft victims. The new IP-PINs are available to residents in Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C. - areas with high incident rates for identity theft.

Although anyone's personal information can be vulnerable, the IRS also suggests taxpayers not carry their Social Security card or documents with their Social Security number on them, secure your personal information in your home and don't give a business your Social Security number just because they ask. The IRS says to only give that information when required.

Experts recommend taxpayers file their returns as early as possible to avoid being victims of identity theft and tax refund fraud.

Learn more about the IRS' Identity Protection PIN:

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