Protect Yourself Against Tax Identity Theft

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) is here to help you protect your tax information.

Table of Contents

Overview

Most people think of identity theft as stolen bank account or credit card information. 

When it comes to tax fraud, identity thieves may use a taxpayer's Social Security number to get a job or file a fraudulent income tax return to get a refund.

The affected taxpayer will be alerted when he or she receives a bill or notice from DOR. Often, a victim of tax identity theft never lived or worked in Massachusetts. 

If you believe you are a victim of tax identity theft, contact DOR:

Learn about DOR's Fraud Prevention Program.

Your Social Security Number

Under Massachusetts law, DOR has the right to ask an individual to provide his or her Social Security number on a Massachusetts tax return.

DOR uses these numbers for:

  • Taxpayer identification
  • Forms processing.
  • Tax refund processing.

Although tax return information is generally confidential, DOR may legally disclose return information to:

  • Other taxing authorities  
  • Those authorized by law.

For more information about the confidentiality of tax information, visit:

Protect Your Personal Information

Identity thieves have many ways of stealing your personal information. To decrease your risk, you should:

  • Order a free copy of your credit report and
  • Check it for accuracy each year.

Keep personal information in a secure place in your home, including:

  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificates and
  • Anything else you may carry in a purse or wallet that has sensitive information.

Review all credit card and bank statements each month for any:

  • Unusual activity or
  • Unauthorized charges.

Unless you know for certain whom you’re dealing with, don’t provide personal information:

  • Over the phone
  • Through the mail or
  • Online.

Change your driver's license number from your Social Security number to a randomly assigned number. Visit the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for more information. 

Choosing a Tax Preparer

Since preparers have access to your personal information, be sure you hire a reputable tax preparer. 

According to IRS, taxpayers should always avoid paid preparers who:

  • Claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers
  • Guarantee results or
  • Base fees on percentage of refund amount.

Although DOR cannot recommend a preparer, the following may provide guidance when you’re choosing a tax preparer:

Sole Proprietorships

If you’re the sole proprietor of a business, the IRS recommends:

  • Keeping your Social Security number private, for business purposes
  • Using an Employer Identification number instead of your Social Security number.

To apply for an Employer Identification number (EIN), visit the IRS.

Contact DOR

If you believe you are a victim of tax identity theft, contact DOR:

Learn about DOR's Fraud Prevention Program.

IRS Guidelines

IRS provides guidance on how you can protect yourself from tax fraud.

According to IRS, taxpayers should always avoid paid preparers who:

  • Claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers
  • Guarantee results or
  • Base fees on percentage of refund amount.

Instead of a Social Security number, IRS recommends sole proprietors use an Employer Identification (EIN) for business purposes.

To apply for an EIN, visit the IRS.

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