One major channel for identity thieves this year is taxes. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Justice Department reported close to 900 people filed bogus refund claims in 2013. According to an article by Lou Carlozo of The Christian Science Monitor, “the IRS‘s identity theft investigations jumped 66% on the whole, with the agency initiating 1,492 probes of identity-theft related crimes in fiscal 2013, compared to 898 in 2012 and 276 in 2011.”
If you have yet to file your taxes, use these tips to help you avoid identity theft this tax season.
Guard Your Social Security Number For a Protected Identity
With all of the online capture forms today, it is sometimes hard to determine when and what kind of personal information you should give up. A good rule of thumb for social security numbers is to protect it like it is your identity because it is. Never give your social security number to someone via text message or email and keep it filed at home in a locked and safe place. In fact even though many businesses ask for your social security number, they do not need it. Only give away your number out of absolute necessity.
File Your Tax Return Electronically to Avoid Sticky Fingers
Electronic filing is becoming more popular as the years pass, but for some filing a hard copy of income taxes is still the norm. If you can file your return electronically you should do so to avoid the possibility of your tax information falling into the hands of the wrong person.
Passwords Will Protect Your Emails From Potential Problems
According to Kelley C. Long, a member of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, “if you must email your tax return or other documentation to your tax preparer or other party that needs it, make sure you password-protect the file or use a secure data portal to transmit the information,” Long says. “As we all know now from Edward Snowden’s work, email is not private. You don’t want to risk your information being intercepted by the wrong person.”
Are You Already a Victim?
If you are already the victim of identity theft the IRS is there to help taxpayers. According to the IRS website, “We know identity theft is a frustrating process for victims. We take this issue very seriously and continue to expand on our robust screening process in order to stop fraudulent returns and protect innocent taxpayers.” Visit the IRS website to learn more about what resources are available to you.
Like identity theft, owing money to the IRS is another serious issue. If you or someone you know owes the U.S. government back taxes, you must contact the professional tax resolution lawyers at U.S. Tax Shield today. A tax resolution attorney will help you find a payment plan that is right for you, and will get you out of debt so you can start saving again.