Protect Your Refund This Tax Season
Feb. 3, 2014 – TaxTalk Blog
Are you excited to receive your tax refund this year? Unfortunately, tax fraud criminals are also looking forward to stealing your refund. If you think this won’t happen to you, know that identity theft criminals stole $24.7 billion from the nation in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Identity theft is a growing epidemic that is especially prominent during tax season. This is the time when taxpayers gather all of their most sensitive information into one place, making it easiest for criminals to steal information and tax returns.
But don’t worry. This year, the department has implemented an identity protection program to help all Hoosiers protect themselves during the 2014 tax season.
The identity protection program will offer resources for taxpayers to help them guard against their personal information being stolen.
The most crucial aspect of protecting your identity is protecting your Social Security number (SSN) and card. Don’t give out your SSN unless you have to, and always ask why it’s needed, how it’s going to be used and how it will be stored. What is most important to remember is that you should never give your SSN to a person with whom you do not make initial contact. For example, if someone calls or emails you, do not give them your SSN.
It is safe to give your SSN to government agencies including the Indiana Department of Revenue and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to your employer.
Additionally, be aware of the most common ways thieves can access your information. Here are some of the ways identity theft criminals can find your personal information:
- From your friends or acquaintances
- By posing as someone who needs your information through a phone call or an email
- By looking through your trash for personal information
- By accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site or via a public Wi-Fi service
The department has also partnered with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General to help taxpayers be aware of ways to best protect themselves from the devastating and increasing crime of identity theft. The Attorney General’s Office is offering an online ID Theft Protection Toolkit, which acts as a central hub for taxpayers to check their credit, make sure their identities haven’t been compromised, alert credit companies when necessary and freeze their credit if their identities have been compromised.
Throughout the week, the department will continue to deliver TaxTalk blogs with information about how you can protect your identity. Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post for tips on filing and storing your documents safely.
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