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Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.

 

Experian’s ProtectMyID: 20 Questions About Tax Time & Identity Theft (Edelman Berland Survey)

Mar 05

ProtectMyID recently worked with Edelman Berland to create a national survey about taxes and identity theft risks. The following 20 questions reveal how consumers understand tax-related identity theft and what they do to protect themselves.

 Tax Identity Theft Survey

1. Gender

  • MALE 49%
  • FEMALE 51%

2. Age

  • 18 – 24 13%
  • 25 – 34 18%
  • 35 – 44 18%
  • 45 – 54 19%
  • 55 – 64 16%
  • 65 AND ABOVE 17%
  • REFUSED 0%

3. Region

  • NORTHEAST 18%
  • MIDWEST 22%
  • SOUTH 37%
  • WEST 23%

4. As you may know, federal tax returns are generally filed in the spring, and cover the preceding calendar year. For example, 2012 tax returns are filed in 2013. Most, but not all, adults in the United States file a federal income tax return. Last year, did you file a 2012 tax return?

  • YES 100%

5. Who prepared your last tax return?

  • TOTAL MYSELF 49%
  • MYSELF, USING AN ONLINE-BASED TAX PREPARATION PROGRAM SUCH AS TURBO TAX 32%
  • MYSELF, USING TAX PREPARATION SOFTWARE INSTALLED ON MY COMPUTER 12%
  • MYSELF, WITHOUT TAX PREPARATION SOFTWARE 6%
  • TOTAL SOMEONE ELSE 51%
  • A FAMILY MEMBER 11%
  • A FRIEND 2%
  • MY ACCOUNTANT 23%
  • A TAX SPECIALIZATION SERVICE [SUCH AS H && R BLOCK] 16%
  • DON’T RECALL *

6. Which of the following best describes how you prepare your documents prior to submitting your return? Asked of those who prepare their own taxes, n=488

  • INSIDE OF MY HOME ON A SECURE NETWORK 83%
  • AT WORK ON A SECURE NETWORK 8%
  • I DON’T PREPARE MY TAXES ONLINE 7%
  • OUTSIDE OF MY HOME [E.G., COFFEE SHOP, LIBRARY] USING FREE WI-FI 2%

7. How do you file your taxes?

  • TOTAL MYSELF 55%
  • I FILE MY OWN TAXES ELECTRONICALLY 44%
  • I FILE MY OWN TAXES BY MAIL 11%
  • TOTAL TAX SPECIALIST 45%
  •  I USE A TAX SPECIALIST WHO FILES ELECTRONICALLY 35%
  • I USE A TAX SPECIALIST WHO FILES BY MAIL 5%
  • I USE A TAX SPECIALIST, BUT AM NOT AWARE OF THEIR FILING METHOD 5%
  •  ELECTRONIC 79%
  • MAIL 16%

8. You mentioned that you file your taxes by mail. Do you send your tax returns by certified mail? Asked of those who file their own taxes by mail, n=107

  • YES 45%
  • NO 50%
  • UNSURE 5%

9. You mentioned that you file your taxes online. What type of computer do you use when filing your taxes online? Asked of those who file their own taxes electronically, n=440

  • PERSONAL COMPUTER OR TABLET 89%
  • TOTAL WORK 10%
  • WORK COMPUTER OR TABLET THAT ONLY I USE 7%
  • WORK COMPUTER OR TABLET THAT OTHERS USE 3%
  • A PUBLIC COMPUTER, SUCH AS AT A LIBRARY *
  • SOMETHING ELSE *
  • UNSURE 1%

10. To the best of your knowledge, does the device you used to file your taxes have current antivirus protection? Asked of those who file their own taxes electronically, n=440

  • YES 91%
  • NO 4%
  • UNSURE 5%

11. What do you do with physical copies of your old tax documents?

  • I STORE THEM IN AN UNSECURE PLACE [E.G., IN A DRAWER, OR UNLOCKED FILING CABINET] 43%
  • I STORE THEM IN A SECURE AND LOCKED PLACE [E.G., A LOCKED FILING CABINET OR SAFE] 38%
  • I SCAN AND STORE THEM ELECTRONICALLY 12%
  • I SHRED THEM 6%
  • I THROW THEM OUT, WITHOUT SHREDDING 1%

12. To what extent are you concerned that your tax preparer/service is susceptible to losing your information? Asked of those whose taxes are prepared by someone else, n=510

  • CONCERNED 15%
  • NOT CONCERNED 64%
  • EXTREMELY CONCERNED 6%
  • NOT AT ALL CONCERNED 37%

13. Have you ever used Electronic Funds Transfer [e.g., direct deposit or electronic debit] to receive a tax refund?

  • YES, I HAVE USED EFT 73%
  • NO, I HAVE NOT USED EFT 22%
  • I’M NOT SURE 5%

14. To what extent are you concerned that someone could access your personal data, such as your Social Security number or banking information, through your tax return?

  • CONCERNED 35%
  • NOT CONCERNED 37%
  • EXTREMELY CONCERNED 14%
  • NOT AT ALL CONCERNED 12%

15. As you may know, tax-related identity theft occurs when a thief uses someone else’s Social Security number in order to get a tax refund. Prior to this survey, were you familiar with the concept of tax-related identity theft?

  • YES, I AM FAMILIAR WITH TAX-RELATED IDENTITY THEFT 57%
  • TOTAL NOT FAMILIAR 43%
  • I HAD HEARD THE TERM BEFORE, BUT DID NOT KNOW WHAT IT MEANT 19%
  • NO, I AM NOT FAMILIAR WITH TAX-RELATED IDENTITY THEFT 22%
  • UNSURE 2%

16. Have you or anyone you know ever been a victim of tax-related identity theft?

  • TOTAL YES 14%
  • I HAVE PERSONALLY BEEN A VICTIM 5%
  • I KNOW SOMEONE WHO WAS A VICTIM 10%
  • NO 79%
  • UNSURE 7%

17. You mentioned that you were a victim of tax-related identity theft. Which of the following actions did you take after this incident? Asked of those who were a victim of tax-related identity theft, n=46

  • RECEIVED AN IRS-ISSUED PIN [PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER] FOR FUTURE PROTECTION 46%
  • PUT A FRAUD ALERT ON MY CREDIT REPORTS 41%
  • REPORTED THE FRAUD TO THE IRS [INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE] 35%
  • ORDERED A CREDIT REPORT 35%
  • FILED AN IDENTITY THEFT COMPLAINT WITH THE FTC [FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION] 30%
  • FILED AN IDENTITY THEFT POLICE REPORT 26%
  • NONE OF THESE 2%

18. The IRS Identity Protection PIN [IP PIN] is a unique six digit number that is assigned annually to victims of identity theft for use when filing their federal tax return that shows that a particular taxpayer is the rightful filer of the return. Prior to this survey, were you aware of the IRS-issued PIN?

  • YES 39%
  • TOTAL NOT FAMILIAR 61%
  • NO 54%
  • UNSURE 7%

19. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: I am concerned about becoming a victim of tax-related identity theft.

  • TOTAL AGREE 54%
  • TOTAL DISAGREE 21%
  • STRONGLY AGREE 14%
  • SOMEWHAT AGREE 40%
  • SOMEWHAT DISAGREE 15%
  • STRONGLY DISAGREE 6%
  • NEITHER AGREE NOR DISAGREE 25%

20. In the event that you became a victim of tax-related identity theft, who would you contact first?

  • THE IRS [INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE] 44%
  • YOUR BANK 18%
  • THE POLICE 14%
  • AN ACCOUNTANT 9%
  • ONE OF THE CREDIT BUREAUS [EQUIFAX, EXPERIAN OR TRANSUNION] 6%
  • AN ATTORNEY 5%
  • THE FTC [FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION] 1%
  • SOMETHING ELSE 2%
  • NONE OF THESE 1%

Survey Methodology

The data points referenced above come from a study commissioned by ProtectMyID, an Experian company, produced by research firm Edelman Berland and conducted as an online survey nationally among  a representative sample of 1,000 adults who filed a 2012 tax return. Interviewing took place from February 4-10, 2014. An asterisk (*) indicates less than 1 percent. Totals may not equal 100 due to rounding. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.

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