Are you looking forward to a tax refund? You may already have your next grand vacation planned. If that's the case for you, be vigilant with your personal information and tax practices to make sure your tax refund ends up safely in your hands. One of the most disappointing thoughts is going to the mailbox to get that hard-earned tax refund, only to find it never arrives, courtesy of identity theft.
Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of Tax-Return Identity Theft:
Protect Your Personal Information
- Keep all personal identification documents in a safe place, and try your best to reduce the chances of having your personal information stolen.
- Shred documents containing your personal information that you no longer need.
- Limit sharing personal information by questioning anyone — do they really need it? Why?
- Only give your SSN when it is required.
- Check your credit report for accuracy every 12 months using www.annualcreditreport.com .
- Keep your computer security software updated and use a firewall, anti-spam and anti-virus software.
- Stay on top of the latest phone and online phishing scams. The IRS never requests financial or personal information by email, and they WILL NOT call you to tell you that you owe taxes.
- Consider a lock on your mailbox to make sure that your mail is secure.
One of the surest safeguards is filing your tax return as early as possible. Once the IRS processes a return with your Social Security number, it rejects any duplicates. A thief won’t be able to file a fraudulent tax return if you have already filed first.
Be sure to work with a legitimate tax-preparation service. Consider verifying their credentials and check on any potential disciplinary actions with the IRS or local Better Business Bureau.
Protect yourself as best you can, so your hard earned tax return is safely delivered to you, and keep those grand vacation plans!
What do you think of Protecting Yourself from Tax-Return Identity Theft? Please share your comments with us.