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9 Tips for Taxpayers to Avoid Identity Theft When Filing to the IRS

By    |   Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 11:41 AM

As the identity theft problem continues to grow, the IRS has taken aggressive action to shield taxpayers and assist victims, with more than 3,000 employees assigned to work on identity theft-related situations. The IRS also trains workers to look for identity theft indicators.

Identity theft remains one of the country's growing crimes, and places a large burden on victims, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies, especially when filing tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

As a result, the IRS has thwarted $14.6 million suspicious returns, and secured more than $50 billion in fraudulent refunds from 2011 through November 2013, according to the IRS website.

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With the IRS on your side, there are also steps for taxpayers to take in order to safeguard their personal information when filing. While no one is completely immune to the dangers, here are nine ways to reduce your risk:

1. Store all financial documents in a safe, offline location, such as a home safe with a locked combination.

2. Know that the IRS doesn't initiate contact by email to specifically ask for personal or financial information. Should such a correspondence be received, the taxpayer should notify the IRS. Also, don't click on links or respond to any email that requests personal data.

3. Protect your social security number. Store a social security card in a safe place other than a wallet or purse, or routinely carry it on your person. A social security number is an easy way for criminals to access a gold mine of personal information, and should only be provided when absolutely necessary.

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4. Secure your personal information online and at home.

5. Shred paper documents that include personal information, such as bank account numbers and addresses, before placing them in the garbage. It's also advisable to discard shredded documents in stages to further complicate a possible retrieval.

6. Check financial accounts regularly for unusual withdrawals or credit card purchases.

7. Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually.

8. "File your income tax return as early as possible to beat the identity thief to the punch," says Steve Weisman, professor at Bentley University, according to USA Today.

9. Protect your data by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change Internet passwords regularly.

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As the identity theft problem continues to grow, the IRS has taken aggressive action to shield taxpayers and assist victims, with more than3,000 employees assigned to work on identity theft-related situations.
IRS, tips, taxpayers, identity theft
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2015-41-22
Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 11:41 AM
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