With the advancement of technology over the last few decades, ways to commit identity theft have also evolved. Often times, a thief will steal social security numbers and file a tax return under a stolen identity in hopes of claiming additional tax returns. However, there’s many ways to prevent this from happening, below are just a few:
Keep Your Social Security Number Private
One of the most prominent ways to have your identity stolen is through a stolen social security number. Don’t give out your SSN unless absolutely necessary,
and when you have to give it out, make sure you do so in a secure manner. It’s also best to leave your Social Security card at home, so you don’t run the risk of losing it and potentially having your identity stolen.
Keep Important Financial Information Private
In line with tip number 1, it’s also important to keep your finances private. Using things such as a locked filing cabinet or a shredder can ensure your information stays protected and private. Also, be wary of those who are asking for your information and avoid giving personal and identifying information
over the phone or through email.
Reduce Spam and Junk Mail
With the shift in online based tax filing, you need to be aware of things such as phising and scams. Many scammers will email you requesting personal information and information relating to your taxes. Be aware, that the actual IRS will not email you or call you. If the IRS needs to contact you, the will send you a physical letter of notice. You can also differentiate from official letters and junk mail by looking at the stamp section. If the section is marked as PRESORTED, it’s probably junk mail and can be thrown away.
Use Security Software
Accidents happen, and you could have clicked a link that downloaded some sketchy software without meaning to. The best way to protect yourself and information in situations like these is to invest in security software. Using things like a firewall can provide an extra layer of defense against people who are trying to steal your information.
Look Out for Data Breaches
Data breaches are a very real threat in the current day and age and it’s important to keep tabs on who’s being attacked. The best way to make sure your information hasn’t been compromised is to stay on top of news related to fraud and theft. If a company you’re with has a suspected data breach, it’s important to keep in contact with that company to see how your information has been accessed and then complete an Identity Theft Affidavit.
While identity theft can be a very real and scary concern, there are ways you can protect yourself now and throughout the year. It’s important, now more than ever, to make sure you’re keeping your information safe. If you follow these steps, you can be less susceptible to tax identity theft.