Campus News

Be wary of identity thieves posing as IRS agents and tax preparers

Tax season is the time to be vigilant about identity theft, said Laura Heilman, a security awareness training and education manager in UGA’s Enterprise Information Technology Services office.

“When a criminal files your taxes first, the burden of proving that you are the legitimate taxpayer falls on you, and it can take months, or even years, for you to receive the refund you are entitled to receive,” she said.

Heilman warns that identity thieves may pose as IRS agents and tax preparers to trick taxpayers into giving away their Social Security number. Thieves can file fraudulent tax returns with stolen identities.

There are steps to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. They include:

• Not carrying a Social Security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number;
• Protecting personal computers by keeping software and antivirus programs up to date;
• Using a password for devices that may contain personal information;
• Keeping physical copies of personal information secure and shredding documents when they no longer are needed;
• Avoiding accessing personal financial and medical information when using an unsecured Internet connection;
• Checking credit reports at least once a year; and
• Filing a tax return as early as possible.

UGA’s Office of Information Security has more information on identity theft and phishing scams available at