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Identity Protection Tips for Tax Season

What’s the most important number for you this tax season? 您的退款金额? 你所欠的金额? The number of hours spent poring over all the other numbers?

所有这些都很重要, but none of them are as important as your Social Security number, at least not in the larger scheme of things.

That’s the number that puts you at greatest risk for identity theft, 和, 每年的这个时候, there are plenty of opportunities for potential thieves to nab it. It’s on the W-2 forms you get in the mail, the return you mail (or send electronically) to the Internal Revenue 服务 (IRS), 和 perhaps even in an email between you 和 your accountant.

If someone does steal your Social Security number (SSN), they can use it for more than just opening new credit accounts. They could file a fraudulent tax return 和 claim a refund, too. You might not even realize it until you go to file your real return.

So, how do you keep your identity safe this tax season? 以下建议将会有所帮助:

保护你的税务文件

  • As W-2s 和 other tax documents start arriving in the mail each January, 把它们放在安全的地方, whether it’s a home safe or a locked drawer in a desk or filing cabinet, 直到该使用它们的时候. This is also where documents 和 returns from previous years should be – under lock 和 key.
  • Help ensure tax documents reach you safely by keeping your address up to date with your employers, financial institutions 和 other appropriate parties.
  • 七年后, it’s safe to throw out old tax returns 和 supporting documents, after running them through the shredder.

使用安全传送方法

  • Never place your tax documents or return in an insecure outgoing mailbox, even at your office. 用挂号信代替.
  • Dropping off your documents to your tax preparer? Don’t leave them unattended in the car or sitting out on your desk at work.

电子归档时保护您的数据

  • No matter if you use an app, software or a website, such as the IRS’s 免费的文件, to e-file your taxes, be sure you do so from a secure network 和 an updated computer or device. 当地图书馆不允许使用电子文档.
  • Your computer or device should already have the latest security software 和 updates installed, 和 you should already be using complex passwords (a long mix of letters, 数字和特殊字符). Continue these measures during tax time.
  • If you’re sending tax documents via email, make sure the documents are password-protected.
  • Encrypt any sensitive data stored on your computer or backup drive.

不要上钩

  • 学习识别网络钓鱼尝试, where thieves email or call 和 try to trick you into providing personal information. 还记得, banks 和 other financial organizations typically will not request your account number or SSN when they contact you.
  • Keep in mind that the IRS will never attempt to reach you by phone or email, only by mail. If you do receive an email claiming to be from the IRS, don’t click on anything within it.

Know the Signs of Tax-Related 身份盗窃

  • If you don’t receive a W-2 or other tax document you were 期待, it may have been stolen from your mailbox. 或者,如果你收到一个 没有 期待, such as a W-2 from a company for which you’ve never worked, someone may be using your SSN fraudulently.
  • Envelopes containing your tax documents or returns have been tampered with.
  • The IRS will not accept your return because it already has one for you. In this case, you may need to mail your return (和 any payment) instead of e-filing.

These precautions may make it harder for someone to steal your identity — but not impossible. So, what should you do if you become a victim of tax-related identity theft? First things first, contact the IRS at once. You can reach the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-. You’ll likely need to fill out 和 submit the IRS 身份盗窃证词14039年,形成.

这些额外的步骤也会有帮助:

  • 使用联邦贸易委员会的 身份盗窃证词 记录犯罪的细节. Then take it to your local police station 和 file a report.
  • Make use of your affidavit 和 police report as you work to close fraudulent accounts, 纠正你的信用报告和更多.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports to encourage creditors not to grant new lines of credit in your name without your consent. To do so, contact one credit bureau, which will share the fraud alert with the other two:
    益百利: 1-
    Equifax: 1-
    Transunion: 1-
  • Review your credit report for other signs of fraud. This may include inaccurate account information, accounts you never opened 和 more.
Tax time is probably never going to be fun, even if you never experience identity theft. 但, being cautious can certainly help to minimize your risk 和 your stress — that is, until it’s time to write that check to the IRS.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco 保险.