MetLife Auto & Home has enhanced its identity protection services to include assistance for tax-related identity theft. The assistance is offered as part of the company’s Identity Protection Services provided to automobile, homeowner, renter’s, and condominium customers at no additional cost, in states where approved by regulators.
“Tax-related identity theft has become a serious consumer concern, impacting tens of thousands of taxpayers each and every year,” said Bob Lundgren, vice president of product marketing at MetLife Auto & Home.
Through the service, customers who suspect they are victims of tax-related identity theft can contact MetLife Auto & Home, whose service provider will work with the IRS to file the necessary paperwork and provide assistance until all issues are resolved. If activity is detected, a fraud specialist will begin an identity theft resolution process, working with the IRS to take action to correct any problems that may be identified, including placing fraud alerts as a safeguard for unauthorized activity.
In addition to this service enhancement, MetLife Auto & Home suggests that all consumers take the following steps to avoid being victims of identity theft during the tax filing process:
- If you choose to e-file, keep in mind that the IRS never communicates through unsolicited e-mail, and would never request personal information on-line (like your social security number, birth date, or checking account number).
- If you receive an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be aware that the official IRS Web site is www.irs.gov.
- If you choose to go to a tax preparer, choose carefully. Research your preparer with the Better Business Bureau or IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to verify the status of his or her license. You can e-mail the IRS at email@example.com, making sure to include the full name of the individual or company along with his or her address.
- If you choose to prepare your tax return and mail it out, mail your returns from a U.S. Postal Services office by certified mail. Also, opt for direct deposit of tax refunds to avoid lost or stolen refund checks.
- Finally, once filed, safely store all tax related documents including your pay stubs, W-2s, 1099s, and federal and state tax returns in a secure location, such as a safe deposit box or an immobile locked safe.
Identity thieves commit tax-related fraud in a number of ways, such as filing a return using another taxpayer’s social security number or obtaining employment by using social security information from another taxpayer’s return. In 2009, the Internal Revenue Service identified over 23,000 incidents of fraudulent tax returns and 24,000 incidents of fraudulent employment. This form of identity theft costs consumers almost $180 million each year. In addition to the cost to society, individual tax payers pay in other ways, often having their legitimate tax returns frozen during an investigation, or even worse, finding themselves subject to enforcement action.
MetLife Auto & Home’s service is provided by IdentityTheft 911. The service is available in most states — excluding auto policy customers in New Hampshire and auto and home customers in North Carolina. The assistance differs from “ID theft insurance” coverage, which typically focuses on reimbursement of expenses and losses arising from identity theft, and can be sold for $35 to $45 or more annually.
Source: MetLife Auto & Home
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