Tax refund theft is on the rise, and we’re here to help you prevent it. In 2015 alone, the IRS stopped 1.4 million, or $8 billion in refund fraud attempts.
Here are 5 ways you can protect yourself:
- Early bird gets the worm: Complete your tax return as soon as possible. That way, any fraudsters trying to claim your refund with your Social Security Number (SSN) won’t be able to duplicate your efforts.
- Speaking of SSNs, keep yours safe and sound: Don’t give out your SSN number willy-nilly. Avoid writing it on checks and over emails, texts, and online chats, and never give it out over the phone to criminals posing as the IRS or financial companies. Remember, legitimate businesses oftentimes won’t ask for your entire SSN for verification purposes, and will never ask for it via email.
- Shred your sensitive documents: Dumpster divers lurk in hopes of finding records to steal and duplicate. Invest in a solid micro-cut shredder and shred receipts, statements, credit card offers, and personal documents when you’re done with them. A high-quality shredder is a small change compared to the heartache and financial losses incurred from ID theft.
- Be wary of scams: Question the sources of emails or callers that 1) require you to verify or confirm any personal information, or 2) offer “free” services such as tax preparation—these are usually sneaky ways to obtain your personal information.
- Get acquainted with digital and data security: Avoid logging into personal banking sites or conducting any sensitive business over public or open Wi-Fi networks. Hackers are waiting to capture all of your keystrokes—it’s that easy.