4 Steps for Tax Fraud Protection During the 2019 Tax Season
Looking for ways to increase your tax fraud protection? Look no further! We have put together 4 must-do steps to take to protect yourself against tax fraud during the 2019 tax season.T
First thing’s first – what is Tax Fraud? Tax Fraud occurs when an identity thief uses stolen information to steal other people’s tax returns. The thief can either be looking to file a fraudulent tax return to obtain your tax refund or they can be looking to claim your tax benefits. Because Tax Fraud can only occur if the person who’s information they’re using hasn’t filed yet, Tax Fraudsters will file as early as possible to increase their chances of success. And the worse part? There is no way to know if fraud has occurred, because taxpayers are not alerted to it, until it is too late.
Because most of us don’t receive our W2 forms until the end of January, and don’t file until the tax deadline in April, it gives thieves plenty of time to cash in on the delay. The IRS claims a quick tax refund turnaround time, around 21 days or 3 weeks. Because of this, tax fraudsters can have taxes filed, refunds received, and the cash turned into untraceable cash by the time you even receive your W2.
Tax Fraud is a rising issue. During last year’s tax season the IRS flagged 787,000 confirmed cases of tax fraud and tax return identity theft , resulting in $4 million stolen from taxpayers. Therefore, Tax Fraud protection tactics are crucial for all taxpayers this year. We have put together 4 steps to follow for Tax Fraud protection and prevention.
4 BEST Steps for Tax Fraud Protection During the 2019 Tax Season…
Step 1 – Protect your Personal Information
Many cases of tax fraud occur when you leave your personal information unprotected against cybercriminals and identity thieves. So, it is crucial to do all that you can to protect your personal identifiable information.
To achieve the highest level of Tax Fraud protection, you must…
Protect your Social Security Number.
Social Security Numbers are one of the most personal pieces of information a person can have. For tax fraud protection, don’t give your Social Security Number out to anyone and be wary of sharing your number with anyone, even if you’re asked to do so. There is also a way to monitor your social security statements through the Social Security Administration. You can use this form to request your annual Social Security earnings statement to see if there is anything suspicious going on.
Safeguard Your Physical SS Card
To have the highest level of tax fraud protection, always keep your physical Social Security Card somewhere safe, secure, and private. Despite the warnings, millions of social security cards are lost, stolen, or misplaced every year. Last year alone, more than 1 million requests were made for a replacement social security card.
Some common ways Social Security cards can be obtained are…
- Your purse or wallet was stolen with your SSN card inside.
- The card is thrown out and then obtained by an identity thief from your trash
- The card is stolen by someone you thought you could trust with your personal information
Use Strong Passwords for Tax Filing Information
As we have mentioned before, having strong, unique passwords for all of your online accounts will ensure that you will have tax fraud protection. Cybercriminals cannot obtain your information if they cannot access it. To make sure your passwords are the best they can be…
- Use a combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers, figures, and symbols.
- Use dynamic information. Do not use names, numbers, or combinations that can be easily guessed by a hacker like the name of your pet, your hometown, or your birthday.
- Use a long string of words – this makes your password less readable to computer programs that test different common passwords and password combinations.
- Use a password manager platform, like 1Password and LastPass. These programs are a convenient way to manage and keep track of a large about of unique passwords.
Beware of Phishing
The IRS has confirmed that they do not initiate contact with taxpayers. The IRS will never request personal information, like PIN numbers, passwords, banking information, or credit card information, from you. If you receive an email like this from someone pretending to be the IRS, make sure you do the following to ensure tax fraud protection…
- Do not reply to the message.
- Don’t open any attachments.
- Do not click any links.
Forward any emails that you suspect are being used for phishing scams to the IRS and delete the original email from your inbox.
Protect your Devices from Viruses
In the digital age we live in today, most tax information, banking information, and personal information can be found on our devices. Therefore, for tax fraud protection, we must always be sure that our devices are fully secured. Some of the best ways to protect your device are…
- Making sure your software is up-to-date. Software updates are intended to fix bugs that hackers can exploit in order to gain access to your information. Keeping your software up-to-date will eliminate room for hackers to use security holes to obtain access to your device.
- Using Antivirus Software. It is worth it to invest in antivirus software for your device. Some devices even come with this software installed already – such as Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows users.
- Using Firewall and Pop-Up Blockers. This will prevent potentially harmful links and pop-ups from invading your computer.
- Backing up your information. If you don’t do this regularly, you should. Backing up your information ensure that you will always have it in case of emergency.
Step 2 – Protect your Paper Records
Shred old bills and documents
Anyone can have access to your trash. To give yourself tax fraud protection, never throw out paper containing personal information before shredding it first. If you don’t have a personal shredder, there are plenty of businesses and events that will allow you to shred your documents for free.
Some information most important to shred includes:
- Credit Card and Banking Statements
- Medical Information
- Use, Unused, or Voided Checks
- Any Documents containing personal information such as maiden names, addresses, passwords, or PIN numbers.
Secure your Mailbox
With so many important documents going in and out of your mailbox, it is important to keep it secured. In New York alone, 2,800 complaints of “mail fishing” or using tools to retrieve information out of mailboxes, occurred. For tax fraud protection, and to prevent mail fishing and mail theft, make sure to check your mailbox daily and remove your mail.
Step 3 – Stay up-to-date on latest Data Breaches
Tax Fraud Protection is very important. To protect yourself to the best of your ability, you have to know what cyber criminals are up to. Keep an eye out for data breaches that you may have been involved in so that you can be proactive against fraud and identity theft. You can find information on the latest data breaches here.
If you discover that your information may have been breached, you can…
- Place a freeze on your account. Putting a freeze on your account will restrict access to your accounts, making it harder for identity thieves to open a new account in your name. The freeze will not impact your credit score at all.
- Monitor your accounts. Credit and Personal Banking monitoring services can help you keep an eye on your accounts. These services will alert you to any suspicious activity on the account so that you can resolve it quickly and hassle free.
Step 4 – Partner with those you trust
If you have followed all of the steps before this, when it’s time to file your taxes, you should be safe and secured. For the tax filing process, make sure your personal information is in safe hands. Whether you are filing your own taxes or having them done by a friend/accountant, make sure you know your information is secured. For filing your own taxes, make sure you are using secured devices, software, and internet connections. If you are placing your tax filing in the hands of someone else, make sure they are trustworthy and have your best interest in mind.
It is also wise to invest in an Identity Theft Protection plan. Identity theft protection plans will make sure you have full tax fraud protection. At American Identity Group, we care about the safety of your personal information. That is why we are offering Single and Family Plan Identity Protection for only $1 down!
Signing up for an Identity Protection plan will ensure that your identity is safe. American Identity Group monitors your identity 24/7 to ensure fraud and tax fraud protection. We use our early warning detection system to scan through hundreds of thousands of online databases in search for anyone using your personal information for their own advantage. We will alert you to any possible identity theft or fraud alerts so that it can be resolved quickly and completely. Sign up for an Identity Protection plan for only $1 down today.
We hope that these steps can provide you with complete tax fraud protection this tax season!