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Consumer fraud: Tips to avoid identity theft during tax season

Identity theft occurs when a person's personal information, such as a Social Security number or full name, is used without permission to open accounts or make purchases. These days, identity theft is one of the most common types of consumer fraud in Alabama and across the country. Recent statistics say that about 33 percent of all adults in the United States have experienced identity theft of some kind. With tax season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service and other officials are reminding citizens to be on the lookout for identity theft.

Reportedly, most tax-related identity theft happens when personal data is stolen and used to file a false tax return and collect the refund. Here are a few things the IRS says could signal that a taxpayer has had his or her identity stolen. Taxpayers receiving a letter from the IRS about a tax return that he or she did not file, receiving a notification that a taxpayer's account has been disabled or being unable to file a tax return due to a duplicate Social Security number.

How can taxpayers prevent tax-related identity theft? Here are a few recommendations from the IRS. Always back up files, check computers for malware and make sure software is up to date, only use secure HTTPS websites and never click on any suspicious email links.

Tax-related identity theft is definitely something to look out for as tax season ramps up. However, identity theft can happen at any time during the year. Those in Alabama who feel that they have been a victim of identity theft or any kind of consumer fraud could obtain guidance by contacting an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.

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