6 Tips to Protect Yourself from Tax Scams and Identity Theft
Tax scams and identity theft are more popular than you may think. And you don’t want to be a victim. Otherwise, you may end up not receiving your tax refund or end up owing taxes when you don’t. The worst part is you will most likely not know whether you are a victim until you file, and the IRS rejects your return due to a duplicate return. The tax season is already stressful, and you don’t want to have more inconveniences. Check out the 2020 tax season schedule here https://taxfyle.com/when-are-taxes-due/.
Below are 6 tips to protect yourself from tax scams and identity theft:
1. File early
Filing your returns as soon as possible is a brilliant way to avoid tax scammers. It makes it difficult for scammers to beat you to the punch. Even if a criminal gets hold of your personal information, they won’t be able to file a fraudulent return and claim your refund.
2. Be careful with your passwords
Yes, memorizing all your passwords can be difficult. But don’t try to make it easier for yourself by using the same password for multiple websites or using passwords that are too weak. Your birthday, name, or those of your spouse or kids are no smart either. Consider using complex passwords that include small letters, upper case letters, symbols, and numbers.
3. Protect against computer viruses and spams
Ensure you have applied every operating system update available. Also, ensure you have anti-virus software and a firewall. In case you recycle or donate an old PC, ensure you use a data-wipe program to make sure nobody can recover its hard drive data.
4. Keep your financial information private
The Internal Revenue Service will not just call you. In any case, why would you answer a call from an unidentified number? Scammers who can’t hack into your computer will try other ways to get your personal and financial information. In case someone calls and claims to be an employee of the IRS, hang up! That’s most likely a scammer.
5. Beware of phishing
Never open suspicious links or attachments from emails that claim to be from your bank or the IRS. That’s most likely a phishing scam. Likewise, before you click on links from your tax preparer, first confirm it’s actually your tax person. Tax preparers have become favorite targets for tax identity theft. The IRS will never request for your personal or financial information through emails; neither will any legitimate company.
6. Don’t carry your Social Security card
It is good to leave your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number card or Social Security card at home. If you carry it, you could lose it. A thief only requires your Social Security number to file fraudulent returns and claim your tax refund. To be on the safe side, leave your Social Security card in a safe place at home and any other document with your Social Security number on it.
If you think you have been a victim of an illicit tax return, report immediately.