Tax season means an increased risk of identity theft. In today’s episode of Scambook TV, Kevan gives us 5 tips to avoid identity theft when you prepare to file your taxes by April 15, 2013. These are the official tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Scambook endorses them wholeheartedly. By following these simple safety tips, you’ll reduce your chances of becoming an identity theft victim this tax season.
First, be careful who you trust with your tax preparation. Then, file your taxes as soon as possible. If you file online, make sure you use a secure Internet connection. If you’re sending your taxes via snail-mail, make sure you mail the envelope directly at the post office. Finally, watch out for phishing emails claiming to be from the IRS.
Nothing is certain but death and taxes, as the old cliché goes. Here at Scambook, we’ll take it a step further and add scammers to the list. Fraudsters are always looking for an opening; during tax season, they know that lots of personal and financial information is going to be changing hands. They’re just waiting to scoop up your Social Security Number and other private details they can use to commit identity theft.
But you don’t have to be a victim! By following some simple safety precautions and educating yourself about the latest consumer threats, you can protect yourself from tax scams and identity theft. Here are 5 quick tips to avoid identity theft this tax season issued by the FTC.
1. Know Your Tax Preparers.
Many of us need help preparing our taxes, even if it’s just a geeky friend who has more experience with Turbo Tax. Make sure that your helper is someone you know and trust! After all, they’re going to have access to valuable personal information and important documents like W2 forms. If you’re looking for a new accountant or a commercial tax preparer, do your homework. Search for them on Scambook and find out what other people are saying about them online.
2. File Your Taxes Early.
There are multiple benefits to filing early. You’ll cut out that last-minute stress and you’ll probably get your refund sooner. But you’ll also be safer. If an identity thief has your Social Security Number and wants to use it to file their own fraudulent taxes, you want to give them as small a window as possible.
3. Use a Secure Internet Connection.
As we’ve said before on Scambook — and we’ll certainly say again! — never send private financial information over an unprotected Internet connection. If you’re filing your taxes electronically, connect to your modem directly or use secure, password-protected wireless. Don’t send your tax information over the free public WiFi at Starbucks.
4. Mail Your Taxes Yourself at the Post Office.
If you do your taxes at home and file them via snail-mail, mail them out yourself. Even if your neighborhood letter carrier accepts outgoing mail, it’s safer to go to the post office directly. Don’t rely on a third-party to mail your taxes for you.
5. Don’t Respond to Emails “From the IRS”
The IRS will never ask you for any personal or financial information through electronic communications. They won’t email you, text you or contact you via Facebook or Twitter. If you receive a message “from the IRS” asking for your information, it’s most likely a phishing scam. Don’t reply, click links or download attachments. Delete the message and run your computer’s antivirus software immediately.
Share Your Thoughts About IRS Tax Scams and Identity Theft
What do you think? Have you ever been the victim of identity theft during tax season? Do you have any tips or tricks to make filing taxes easier? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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