Nationally, tax fraud involving stolen identities is an increasing problem. Massachusetts is no exception, as during the current filing season DOR has identified several cases in which a thief uses someone else’s name and social security number in filing for a tax refund, usually electronically, and then provides a bank routing number or address to receive the refund. The real taxpayer does not realize they have been victimized until their tax return is rejected because someone has already filed, fraudulently, under their social security number.

Taxpayers are advised to take steps to keep your personal financial information secure. That includes ordering a copy of your credit report annually; shredding or cutting up all credit card receipts and old bank statements and bills before throwing them away; closing unused credit cards or bank accounts; keeping your PIN number hidden when using an ATM; removing your names from mailing lists for pre-approved credit lines and telemarketers; contacting your creditor or service provider if you notice odd charges or if expected bills do not arrive on time; not leaving mail with credit card payments in your mailbox; and updating computer virus software or using a secure browser, and installing a firewall program.

For further guidance on how to avoid identity theft, and for advice on what do if your identity is stolen, the Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley has published an identity theft guide.