1. File Early
Scammers that are looking to commit tax fraud are hoping that you delay filing your taxes, so that they can file a fraudulent tax return in your name and collect your refund before you are even aware that it is happening. With that being said, not only will filing your taxes early guarantee you a faster tax return, but it will decrease the likelihood of someone committing tax fraud with your name.
2. Protect Your Social Security Number
Most tax-return identity theft cases involve a stolen Social Security Number (SSN). With your social security number, identity thieves can file fraudulent tax returns and collect your refund. In order to avoid this happening, it is best not to carry your Social Security Card with you, but rather to store it somewhere securely. You also should ensure that you never send your SSN through email, and only provide it to people when ABSOLUTELY necessary.
3. Beware of Phishing
Phishing is when online scammers impersonate reputable businesses in order to receive personal identifying information such as your SSN, DL #, address, etc. A popular scam has been hackers sending emails pretending to be IRS in order to receive your personal identifying information. Beware of these emails and remember that the IRS, your bank, or any other reputable businesses will never ask for financial or personal information through email.
4. Shred Your Bank and Tax Documents
Tax documents, bank statements, W-2’s, and any other information that goes into filing your taxes is very sensitive information, and must be protected at all costs. People who are looking to commit identity theft and tax fraud are not above digging through your trash to acquire these sensitive documents, so in order to be safe it is best to shred all of these documents when you are done with them.
5. Protect Your Mailbox
Bank statements, W-2s and pay stubs are all pieces of mail that can be used against you to commit identity theft. Some scammers will take advantage of you by simply sifting through your mailbox to see what they can get their hands on. To ensure this doesn’t happen, it is best to consider using a PO box to ensure that no one can access your mail other than you. If this isn’t an option for you, you should change your account preferences to sensitive bank and tax info to receive them electronically.