Sterling Tax & Accounting takes security very seriously, so we want to begin our letter this year with a reminder that tax identity theft is a growing problem. Unfortunately, it can take many forms, so beware if you:

Receive a notice or letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding a tax return, tax bill or income that does not apply to you. It’s possible that someone has filed a false return using your Social Security number (SSN) to claim a refund or get a job. Between February 2011 and December 2015, the IRS identified almost 1.1 million taxpayers who were victims of employment-related identity theft.

Get an unsolicited email or other contact asking for your bank account number or other financial details or personal information — such as your SSN. The IRS does not contact taxpayers using email, text or other social media channels, so it’s likely that a scammer is trying to steal your confidential information.

Receive a robocall insisting that you must call back and settle your tax bill. Your first contact with the IRS will be through official correspondence by mail; they will not call you out of the blue. Also, the IRS does not demand immediate payment over the phone, threaten to arrest you or demand your credit or debit card number or that you use a certain payment method — such as a gift card — to pay your taxes. If you receive any suspicious communications from the IRS, you can report the contact by filling out this IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form or call 800.366.4484. We also urge you to contact our office for advice whenever you receive communication from the IRS or believe you might have been the victim of identity theft.