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With the amount of technology that has been integrated into our lives, the topic of identity theft is at the forefront of many people’s minds. Having your credit card, banking or financial information stolen is a popular fear. If this information finds its way into the wrong hands, you could be in for a long battle to recover your assets. However, there is one type of identity theft that isn’t as well known, but is just as dangerous –  tax returns. Avoiding tax return identity theft should be a priority and there are a few steps you should take to protect yourself.

What Is Tax Return Identity Theft?

When a someone obtains your social security number and files a fraudulent tax return in your name and receives the refund. This can be a difficult form of identity theft to detect because there’s really no way to know a return has already been filed until you attempt to file on your own (unless the IRS informs you of a suspicious filing).

How Do I Avoid Tax Return Identity Theft?

There are a few, simple guidelines to follow which will offer you some protection against tax return identity theft.

  • File Your Return As Early As Possible
    • Your taxes aren’t due until April 15th, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute. In fact, the earlier you can file your tax return, the better. The longer you wait, the more time a thief will have to file a return in your name. This is one of the keys to avoiding tax return identity theft.
  • Leave Your Social Security Card At Home
    • Those 9 numbers are all a thief needs to file a tax return in your name. With that info, it is very simple to find out any additional information that may be required. Your Social Security number is what the IRS uses to identify you. You have to make sure it is secure. Don’t keep your card in your wallet and don’t carry around any documentation that has your Social Security number on it.
  • Make Sure Your Computer Is Protected
    • You want to make sure that your home PC is protected via a secure network. Also, have a firewall and security software installed and running at all times. In the same vein, you want to use strong passwords when signing up for websites. This will make it more difficult for your information to be hacked.
  • Protect Your Financial Information
    • The previous bullet point covered how to protect your information online, but physical copies also need to be protected. Keep important documents locked inside your home. Don’t provide sensitive information over the phone or computer, unless you are certain of who you’re providing the information to.

Threats to your identity are becoming more and more prevalent, but avoiding tax return identity theft is something that can be accomplished. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way.

A Free Guide on How To Secure Your Identity & Protect Your Data