6 Tips to Reduce Chances of Tax Identity Theft
Tax identity theft occurs when someone else uses your Social Security number to file a fraudulent return to get a tax refund. It can also happen when someone else uses your personal information to secure employment, which can make it appear you earned more income than you actually did.
While additional safeguards in the tax industry have led to a decline in tax identity theft incidents in the last year, those who are victims could face a complex resolution process and/or delayed tax refunds.
Tips to reduce chances of tax identity theft:
- File early to get your refund before identity thieves have the opportunity.
- When you do file, use a secure Internet connection if filing electronically. If mailing your return, take it to the post office to prevent your return—and your personal information—from being stolen from your mailbox.
- Know that the IRS won’t ask you to pay your taxes with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer, nor will they ask for a credit card number over the phone. In fact, if the IRS needs to contact you, they will do so by mail.
- If you aren’t preparing your return yourself, ask for recommendations and research tax preparers before you turn your personal information over to them.
- Shred old tax returns you’re no longer required to keep, as well as draft returns, extra copies and calculation sheets.
- Always protect your Social Security number or Medicare card number; don’t give it out unless you must. Always ask why it’s needed, how it’s going to be used and how it will be stored.