Most people dread tax season. And today the fear of identity theft just adds to the stress of preparing your tax return. But, for identity thieves, tax season is a favorite time of year. Why? Because you and millions of other Americans just like you will send confidential information over the Internet, via fax, and in the mail.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, social security number, or other personal identifying information without your permission to commit fraud. Thieves know they can steal a social security number and file a forged tax return in the hopes of getting a fraudulent refund. Typically this happens earlier in the filing season. Did you know thieves have also started stealing children’s social security numbers, as they are a “clean slate”? That’s why it’s important to take steps to protect your whole family.
Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to identity theft this tax season. Follow these crucial steps to protect yourself, your family, your assets, and your credit.
- Choose a trusted and reliable tax preparer. If you or your tax preparer is filing online, make sure it’s on a protected computer.
- Hand-deliver or FedEx® secure documents to the tax preparer, especially W-2 forms and other documentation containing your social security number(s).
- You should check your credit report regularly, at least once a year. This year consider checking it during tax season.
- Make sure your personally identifiable information is secure at home.
- If you bank, shop, or file your taxes online make sure you protect your computer with firewalls, anti-virus software, and change your passwords often.
- Know who you are dealing with – never, ever give personal information out over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you are the one who initiated contact. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or seems suspicious, cut off contact immediately. For example, the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers either by phone or email; so be wary of anyone claiming to be from the IRS.
IdentityForce’s complete identity theft protection is a great first step in protecting you and your family from identity theft during tax season. You can relax knowing that we monitor your personal information daily, alert you when there is suspicious activity, and help you take control if anything goes wrong. Tax season is a great time to sign up for our complete identity theft protection.
And, remember, there is something to love about tax season; it means spring has officially arrived!
Image courtesy of Flickr user 401(K) 2012.