Pennsylvanians encouraged to file tax returns early to avoid identity theft

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A copy of a IRS 1040 tax form is seen at an H&R Block office. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The PA Department of Revenue says Pennsylvanians should try to file their tax returns as soon as possible to avoid stolen information potentially being used to file fraudulent returns on their behalf.

“We know there are criminals who use stolen personal information to file fraudulent tax returns and steal tax refunds. We want Pennsylvanians to be aware of these scams so they can take steps to protect themselves,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “We know from our experience that criminals are always looking for new ways to trick people into turning over their sensitive data. Know the warning signs so that you won’t become a victim of these scams.” 

Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell

The information can be stolen via phone scams or email “phishing” scams designed to trick the victim into thinking the email comes from a legitimate source and then having any information they input stolen by a malicious website or individual.

The Department of Revenue offers these tips:

  • Look for imposters: Many times, criminals will pose as a government entity or an official business. If you are targeted by a scam artist through the mail, phone or email, do not provide personal information or money until you are sure you are speaking to a legitimate representative.
  • Don’t fall for high-pressured tactics: Criminals responsible for these scams have been known to use high-pressured tactics, including threatening taxpayers with criminal charges if they don’t comply with their requests for their information. Many scams have also involved criminals threatening the taxpayer with an arrest warrant or the “blacklisting” of their Social Security number.  
  • Approach unusual attachments and links with caution: Links to a website or attachments to an email could contain malware that allows criminals to track the recipient’s keystrokes. That’s one way they can obtain passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or other sensitive information.
  • Conduct research online: If you receive a phone call, email or letter that you believe is part of a scam, conduct a search online to see if a scam has been reported by other people or government agencies. For your research, use information from the message, such as an email address, company name, address or telephone number.

SOURCE: PA DEPT. OF REVENUE

The department is also encouraging residents to use myPATH to file electronically for free. This year’s filing deadline is April 15.

If you think you may be a victim of fraud, please contact RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov. For more info on data security visit pa.gov.

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