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Social Security Number (SSN) Masking

January 6th, 2017 No comments

Social Security Number (SSN) masking is encouraged and one of the best ideas the IRS has come up
with. Filers can replace the first 5 digits of a Taxpayer Identification Number or TIN with an
X or *. An example would be

***-**-1234 or XXX-XX-1234

You can mask social security numbers (SSN), employer identification numbers (EIN) and
masking is now permitted for all tax forms including Form W-2.

Identity Theft

The motivation for TIN masking is to reduce identity theft. Here is what can happen. A
filer mails a tax form to a recipient and because its a tax form, the envelope must be
marked “Official Tax Document Enclosed”. If the tax form is stolen and the SSN is not
masked, someone could use the recipient’s name, address, and full SSN to file a fake
tax return seeking a large tax refund before the recipient files. The tax refund is
deposited on prepaid debit cards whereby the theft can withdraw the cash anonymously.
When the true recipient files their real tax return later on, they then have to prove their
identity, correct the fraudulent return and its an overall paperwork nightmare for the recipient.

By default, 1099FIRE prints and mails all information returns with the SSN masked.  The
client can request to remove masking but we encourage masking when printing and mailing
any tax forms.

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