4 Things to Know About Taxes and Identity Theft
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During tax season, your personal information is particularly vulnerable. After all, your Social Security
number (SSN) is on W-2 forms, your tax return and other financial documents being sent through the
mail, transported to accountants and otherwise used to complete your annual IRS ritual. So it’s a good
time of the year to be especially vigilant.
To help, here are four things you should know about identity theft — from what thieves can do to how
you can help protect yourself — from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Trade Commission:
- Thieves won’t just open new accounts — they can (and will) file “your” taxes. Someone with
access to your data could file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund under your name. You
may not know until you go to file your own return and it comes back rejected. If it happens, call
the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
- Scammers will try to reel you in. Ever get a call or email from someone asking you to verify your account information or SSN? Legitimate organizations, especially the IRS, won’t do that. If
there’s a problem with your tax return, the IRS will contact you by mail.
- Technology can help. If you send tax forms or other sensitive documents via email, password protect them. Furthermore, security software can help keep your data safe, and password
generators will help ensure your various login credentials aren’t easy for a thief to figure out. As
for analog documents, such as tax records, store them in a locked desk or filing cabinet and
don’t send them through the mail unless it’s certified.
- Reporting the crime is a must. Ninety percent of identity-theft victims don’t alert the police,
says BJS. But you should. A police report can help prove to financial institutions and businesses
that someone stole your identity. It also allows you to place an extended fraud alert on your
credit report, get inaccurate information removed, stop debt collectors from reporting
fraudulent accounts and more. Because once criminals have your information, they may use it
to perpetuate many types of fraud.
Protecting your identity is, of course, something to be mindful of all year round – not just during tax
season. For more tips, visit IdentityTheft.gov. And, to discuss adding identity protection coverage to
your home insurance policy, contact us at Gene Morgan Insurance Agency today.
Identity theft protection coverage is something most homeowner’s insurance policies can include for a small premium. Call us today to review your home insurance coverage! (925) 447-2565.