Each year, millions of Americans have their identity stolen. This can affect your credit and your finances. Tax season can be a more vulnerable time than any other for ID theft. Therefore, it is important that you take ID theft prevention seriously.
Recognizing the Signs for ID Theft Prevention
- You receive an error message or a letter from the IRS stating that a return was already filed for your social security number.
- You have waited longer than a month after filing to receive your refund. You can use the Where’s My Refund tool to track your refund.
- You receive an unrecognized W-2 from an employer that you don’t work for. This can be a sign that someone has used your SSN to apply for employment.
Hire a Tax Professional with a Credible Reputation
Another step in ID theft prevention is to hire a reputable tax pro. Make sure that you choose your tax preparer with care. You submit sensitive and confidential information to a third party when you hire a professional to do your taxes. So, you want to be sure they are trustworthy. Tax preparers are available everywhere, and your documentation in the wrong hands can do much harm. Make sure they are licensed and reputable. You can use the IRS website to search for tax professionals in your area.
Protect Your Documentation
Tax documents start coming early in the year and they carry various sensitive information. Make sure you don’t leave them lying inside the mailbox for too long. A lockable mailbox can be a good investment vs the potential price you may pay if your identity is stolen.
Gather all your documents and keep them in a secure place in your home. Mail in your documents personally at the post office and avoid leaving them in the mailbox for the postman to pick it up. Avoid leaving any room for error.
Look Out for Tax Scams
Tax season is a great window for scammers to take advantage of taxpayer vulnerabilities. You may receive emails or phone calls claiming that they represent the IRS. The IRS repeatedly emphasizes that it contacts taxpayers via U.S. Post and never by email, text messages, or phone calls. Therefore, if you receive any other form of communication other than a letter via U.S Post, it is almost certainly a scam.
You can refer to these resources to learn more about ID theft prevention and ways to protect yourself from being victimized.