Tax time is right around the corner, and unfortunately ID thieves know it. Remember to keep your guard up against tax identity theft this year.
Each year, thousands of Americans’ personal information is stolen by thieves who use it to file tax returns and collect large refunds. In many cases, victims don’t find out about the fraud until their own legitimate tax returns are rejected by the IRS, which says they’ve already processed a return under the same name and social security number.
To avoid tax return ID theft, protect your personal and financial information:
- Store your social security card in a safe, secure location.
- Never carry your social security card in your wallet or purse unless you need it that day.
- Shred old, unneeded documents that include your SSN.
- Avoid using your SSN online when possible. If you do need to enter your SSN into a website, look for an “https” at the beginning of the web address to ensure security.
- Limit the odds that a thief will collect your refund by filing your tax return as soon as possible.
- If you hire a tax preparation service to file your return this year, make sure the preparer is legitimate.
If the IRS tells you that they’ve received your return already this tax season, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit reports, and contact the IRS to learn about filing an Identity Theft Affidavit. Taxpayers are often able to work with the IRS to sort out their tax returns and get their refund.
For more information on making sure filing your taxes goes smoothly, take a look at our tax time tips.