How to Avoid Tax Return Identity Theft from Happening to You
Getting a tax refund is often a welcome surprise that can help you pay an upcoming bill, get ahead on a credit card payment, take a mini-vacation or simply increase your family’s emergency fund. However, over the last several years, tax return identity theft has become increasingly common and many Americans are finding that their refunds have already been claimed when they file their taxes. How can you prevent this from happening? Here are some tips for protecting yourself from tax return identity theft.
1. Protect Your Social Security Number
Identity thieves generally use social security numbers to claim annual tax returns. They steal other people’s social security number to file a fraudulent return very early in the tax season, generally before most taxpayers would be able to file. As a rule, you should be very careful with your social security number and avoid carrying it with you on a daily basis. Keep your social security card in a safe place at home so that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Also, do not provide your social security number unless it is absolutely necessary.
2. Choose Strong Passwords
Identify thieves also work hard to access their online information. When you set passwords, especially for all accounts related to your finances, make sure that they are strong, so that they cannot easily be accessed. Change passwords regularly and avoid automatically saving your passwords.
3. Beware of Phone and Email Scams
If you receive a phone call or email that asks for your personal information, assume it is a scam. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), credit card companies, banks and other legitimate businesses will not contact you by phone or email and request personal information like social security numbers. The bottom line is that if you have not initiated contact, do not share your personal information.
Shred all financial and personal documents and paperwork that you are ready to discard. Do not simply throw this information in the trash. Also, shred all of those credit card offers you get in the mail. This is another source of identity theft.
5. Keep a Close Eye on Your Credit Information
If you notice that something is amiss when it comes to your identity, move forward and check with the three major credit bureaus. You can put a fraud alert on your credit record.
6. File Taxes Early
Another way to combat tax return identity theft is to file your own taxes as early as possible, closing the door to those identity thieves.
Get Strong Tax Support
If you take these steps and still find yourself a victim of tax return identity theft, react quickly and contact the IRS as soon as possible. You will be asked to complete and submit IRS Form 14039. If you need assistance navigating this or any other tax-related process, the team at Success Tax Relief is available to help. Our team has years of experience managing all types of tax issues from large to small—all in an effort to provide the best possible service to our customers. Call us at 877-825-1179 for more information or contact us online for a free consultation.