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Tax Time and Identity Theft

It's that time of year again and many of us are busy pulling information together for our 1040s and other tax forms. There are W2s and 1099s to collect, credit cards to analyze, and bank accounts to reconcile. The amount of information required to file even the simplest tax return is staggering.

These days much of that information is stored and transmitted online, often in the form of email messages about mortgage payments, 401Ks, interest payments, and more, so it is more important than ever to be careful about protecting your identity. Why? Because tax time is open season for identity thieves.

Identity thieves want your social security number and other personal information, so they can use it to steal your money and file false claims. According to security solutions company Identity Guard, the IRS pays billions of dollars to fraudulent filers, including many identity thieves who are using children’s social security numbers.

It’s essential that we all take the appropriate safety measures to protect ourselves and our families. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep online information safe and backed up in at least two places – your computer and a back-up disk that is only used for that purpose.
  • Keep a hard copy of the most vital online information with other important documents such as birth certificates and passports.
  • Invest in a fire-proof safe for your home, where important information can be stored.
  • Make a habit of shredding tax documents and old papers instead of simply throwing them out. This is particularly important for papers containing social security numbers and other personal information.
  • Ask your accountant to shred old tax returns to insure your information is safe.
  • File taxes online – it’s safe, efficient and fast.
  • Monitor your credit rating for any unexpected changes. And while you're at it, check your children's credit ratings too. If you don't, it could be many years before you discover there's a problem, and many more years after that to get it fixed!
Identity theft is a multi-billion dollar business for criminals – make sure you’re not their next victim!

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