While others may be focused on their own taxes, frauds and identity predators are at an all-time high, using the vulnerable state of confidential information to gain what they want. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to ensure that your identity is protected during this confidential information hunting season.
In the grand scheme of things, your refund amount isn’t what matters, it’s information like your social security number. Whether you get papers in the mail that state your SS number, or something that allows them to obtain this information with you knowing. When someone does take your social security number, there are a variety of things they can do – it doesn’t matter if you have money in your bank account or not, they could do damage much worse than stealing your money.
What Can They Do?
A fraud can go as far as creating fraudulent tax documents and claim their own refund using your name and you won’t even know it until you finish your return and go to file. Furthermore, they could easily open up accounts in your name without you knowing, spending credit that doesn’t even belong to them.
How Do I Protect Myself During This Time?
There are many ways you can go about protecting yourself during this time, and even deter them from trying to take your information. Some of the ways you can do so are highlighted below:
- Safeguarding your documents
Personal documents like your W-2, or any other tax forms and documents will start coming in the middle in January. Make sure to check your mail when you can, and not leave your mail sitting in the mailbox for days at a time. Furthermore, once you receive these documents, you should put them in a lock box and secure them safely within your home. Any personal documentation that you get rid of should be shredded to bits and then thrown away, as thieves will go as far as rummaging through your trash, or a dump to obtain these bits of information. It’s like a job to some!
- Securing your methods of delivery
Another way you can protect your information and documents is to ensure that the delivery method is secure. If you don’t send your tax documents electronically, and you file the old fashion way, you’ll want to make sure it’s delivered directly to the post office and use a type of certified mail instead of your standard mailing options. Never leave these documents unattended for a thief to take.
- Protection during the e-filing process
Even if you’re using a website that you trust, you should never access this website and input your information if it’s not a secure website. You should never file your tax documents on public Wi-Fi, either, as this insecurity within the system can wreak of frauds who will rip your information from you without your knowledge.
Filing safely, securely, and making sure your information is not unattended are three of the best ways to ensure that you won’t become a victim of tax fraud. Always make sure to call your employer if you don’t receive a tax form, or else it may have been stolen from your mailbox, and you should always look to see if your mail has been tampered with. Stay ahead of the game this tax season.