Tips are being provided as part of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

As the 2018 tax season gets underway, Franklin Savings Bank is urging all customers to take extra precaution when filing their return to prevent their exposure to tax fraud.

“Fraudsters are using very clever tactics to get a hold of your personal information and submit false tax claims,” said Jonathan Winters, VP, Information Security Officer. “Consumers must be suspicious of any communication from the IRS ¾ through email, text or social media ¾ that requests personal information, and should keep a watchful eye out for missing W-2s and mail containing sensitive financial information.”

Tax identity fraud takes place when a fraudster files a false tax return using a stolen Social Security number in order to fraudulently claim the refund. Identity thieves generally file false claims early in the year and victims are unaware until they file a return and learn one has already been filed in their name.

In recognition of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week Jan. 29-Feb. 2, FSB is offering the following tips:

  • File early. File your tax return as soon as you’re able to give criminals less time to use your information to file a false return.
  • File on a protected Wi-Fi network. If you’re using an online service to file your return, be sure you’re connected to a password-protected personal network. Avoid using public networks like a Wi-Fi hotspot at a coffee shop.
  • Use a secure mailbox. If you’re filing by mail, drop your tax return at the post office or an official postal box instead of your mailbox at home. Some criminals look for completed tax return forms in home mailboxes during tax season.
  • Find a tax preparer you trust. If you’re planning to hire someone to prepare your taxes, obtain recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before handing over all of your financial information.
  • Shred what you don’t need. Once you’ve completed your tax return, shred the sensitive documents that you no longer need and safely file away the ones you do. FSB offers free shred events in the spring and fall to enable customers to safely destroy old and unwanted financial documents.
  • Beware of phishing scams by email, text or phone. Scammers may try to solicit sensitive information by impersonating the IRS. It’s important to keep in mind that the IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail first.
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for W-2s, tax refunds or other mail containing your financial information. If you don’t receive your W-2s, and your employer indicates they’ve been mailed, or it looks like it has been previously opened upon delivery, contact the IRS immediately.

If you believe you’re a victim of tax identity theft, or if the IRS denies your tax return because one has previously been filed under your name, alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at
1-800-908-4490. In addition, you should:

  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Contact your bank immediately, and close any accounts opened without your permission or those with fraudulent activity.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records:
    • Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285
    • Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
    • TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
  • Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.

More information about tax identity theft is available from the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and the IRS at irs.gov/identitytheft.

Established in 1869, Franklin Savings Bank is an independent, mutually-owned community bank, offering a full array of commercial lending, personal banking and investment services throughout the Central Lakes Region and southern New Hampshire. Headquartered in Franklin, the Bank has offices in Bristol, Boscawen, Tilton, Gilford and Merrimack, as well as an office in Bedford for business lending. Franklin Savings Bank also offers investment, insurance and financial planning services through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Independence Financial Advisors, from offices in Franklin, Bedford, Gilford, Nashua, Rochester and Merrimack, New Hampshire. As a recognized leader in providing the latest in financial services technology, Franklin Savings Bank remains committed to serving the needs of businesses, families and the communities it serves, through a dedicated team of employees, a diverse line of financial products and services, and continued investment in emerging technology.

You can learn more about Franklin Savings Bank by calling 1.800.372.4445, or visiting www.fsbnh.bank, or following the bank on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.