All Points Mobile Shredding Blog
Preventing Identity Theft During Tax Season
Top steps to take
One of the worst feelings in the world is the discovery that someone has robbed you of your long-awaited tax refund—it’s right up there with finding out your credit or debit card has been compromised. Thousands upon thousands of people have experienced that feeling of panic when receiving the message that their taxes were already filed—stolen by an unscrupulous crook who somehow got their personal information and filed using their social security number before they were able to. Identity theft can happen at any time to anyone, but tax season is one time of year that thieves are on high alert, especially if they can intercept your tax refund you’ve been waiting for all year long. Here are some top ways to prevent this from happening to you:
Guard your social security number
Tax thieves are on the lookout for your social security number, it’s the main piece of information they need to swipe your refund. So to keep it out of the wrong hands, make it a point to leave your social security card at home in a safe place. It’s also highly recommended that you refrain from giving it out online unless it’s absolutely necessary and never send it via email to anyone—even your most trusted connections. In addition, be on the lookout for any tax documents that are being sent to you in the mail and if you haven’t received ones that are expected, be sure to follow up with whatever organization is supposed to send it. Mailboxes are a great source of information for identity thieves and grabbing your confidential tax documents only takes a few seconds.
Whether you prepare your own taxes or you have a professional who does it for you, get started as soon as possible to thwart the attempts of tax and identity crooks. Between 2012 and 2013, tax fraud nearly doubled, and even though the IRS launched major investigations into the cases, it was alarming how many people were affected. One of the biggest scams was people who went to file only to find out that a thief had already filed using their social security number and stolen their refund, so the earlier you file, the better.
Do your homework
Sadly, there are dishonest people in every facet of life and among the scammers during tax season over the last few years were folks who offered tax preparation. If you do plan on hiring a tax professional to prepare your return, make sure you check reviews and if possible, get personal recommendations from people you know and trust.
Be wary of requests for your information
We all know the dangers of providing personal information via email or phone, but it’s especially important to be vigilant during tax season. One of the biggest scams in the past years was a phone campaign by which crooks impersonated IRS agents and informed people that they owed taxes and that they needed to pay immediately via wire transfer or a prepaid card. It may be hard to imagine, but thousands of people fell for this scam, a costly mistake. As a rule, the IRS does not call people, if taxes were due you would receive a letter in the mail.
Destroy unneeded documents
Other key pieces to tax fraud are any documents that contain personal information—even if it’s just your birthday, address, account numbers, etc. Criminals who are savvy enough can take those bits of info and use it to get what they need to steal your identity. To prevent this, be sure to shred old paperwork, even old W-2s, 1099s and other tax papers that are from previous years. Once you have your taxes finished each year, make a digital copy for your records, one paper copy to keep in a safe place and then, destroy all other copies. Also, if it worries you to get rid of these types of documents, remember you can always order transcripts from the IRS and even view them online on their website.
Don’t become a victim of tax or identity theft, take these steps and stay on top of all the ways you can protect yourself and your family. Talk to us at All Points Mobile Shredding to find out how we can help you securely destroy unneeded documents, hard drives, cell phones and other devices that contain your confidential information. We offer onsite shredding at your home or office to further your peace of mind that your identity is safe. Request an online quote or give us a call at 772.283.4152 today.