Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico residents are now eligible for an ID protection program the IRS is offering to help prevent scammers from filing a tax return in someone’s name.
The IP (identity protection) PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent misuse of a stolen Social Security number. The IRS expanded the program to New Mexico and 19 other locations this year, as it moves to offer the service nationwide.
To be eligible, taxpayers must have filed a federal return last year.
“An IP PIN helps the IRS verify a taxpayer’s identity and accept their electronic or paper tax return,” according to the IRS. “When you have an IP PIN, it prevents someone else from filing a tax return with your SSN.”
Taxpayers list the PIN number on their electronic or paper federal tax returns when prompted by their electronic provider or tax preparer.
The protected number is valid for only one year, after which a new application must be filed. If an incorrect number is entered on the return, the taxpayer could face rejected or delayed refunds.
To get an IP Pin number, go to www.irs.gov/ippin. If you don’t already have an IRS account, you will have to create one. You will have to pass a “rigorous” identity verification process, the IRS says.
Among the information needed to verify identity are an email address, a Social Security or tax identification number, and one financial account number linked to your name, such as a credit card, mortgage, home equity loan or vehicle loan.
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Because scammers know how to prey on our worst fears, beware of schemes aimed at taking advantage of the coronavirus and related market downturns.
In particular, watch for offers to sell “safer, guaranteed investments,” according to a recent alert from the state’s Securities Division.
“If you have concerns about your retirement accounts or investments, talk to your financial professional,” says Marguerite Salazar, superintendent of the state Regulation and Licensing Department, which oversees the Securities Division. “Avoid making decisions based on panic or fear.”
Make sure that the person selling the security and the security itself are registered with the state, Salazar says.
Other signs of possible investment fraud, according to the Securities Division alert, include if:
• The investment has a guaranteed high return with little or no risk; all investments carry a risk that you could lose money. If someone says otherwise, they’re lying.
• There’s a sense of urgency or limited availability surrounding the investment. “If someone offers you a can’t-miss investment opportunity and puts you on the spot, don’t be afraid to walk away.”
Contact Ellen Marks at email@example.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.