Tags: Proactive | tax | identity | theft

WSJ: 'Stay Proactive' to Help Guard Against Tax Identity Theft

By    |   Monday, 02 March 2015 12:01 PM


Tax identity theft has turned into a major problem, as cyber criminals steal individuals' tax data to fraudulently obtain refunds on the returns.

Almost 2 million suspected tax identity thefts occurred in 2013, ballooning from about 440,000 in 2010, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Laura Saunders of The Wall Street Journal lists several steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of such theft.
  • "Stay proactive," she writes. You can't determine whether someone already has filed a bogus tax return using your Social Security number until you submit your own. So it pays to send in your return as quickly as possible. "Meanwhile, practice cyber-hygiene," she suggests. That includes using strong passwords and changing them frequently.
  • "Shun email links and attachments." Bogus e-mails can contain malware that can purloin your data. That fraud technique is known as phishing.
  • "Ask for an IP PIN." You receive a new one each year, and returns can't be filed without it.

There's no need to abandon filing over the Internet, experts say. "Electronic filing is still the best way to file your taxes," the Minnesota Department of Revenue said in a statement.

Julie Miller, a spokeswoman for Intuit, told The New York Times that its TurboTax, the most popular do-it-yourself tax software, has increased security.

For example, a taxpayer who wants to log on to TurboTax from an unknown computer or mobile device, must prove his/her identity with an e-mail address or phone number.

Intuit stopped Internet filing of state returns for about 24 hours last week, after suspect returns were filed in more than 10 states.

Meanwhile, there's not much you can do if your information is obtained in broad thefts like the recent one at Anthem, a health insurer, Eva Velasquez, chief executive of the Identity Theft Resource Center, told The Times.

But don't provide your Social Security number to anyone unless you have to, shred sensitive documents before throwing them in the trash and keep important documents, like tax returns, locked away, The Times story recommends.

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As you've probably read, tax identity theft has turned into a major problem, as cyber criminals steal individuals' tax data to fraudulently obtain refunds on the returns.
Proactive, tax, identity, theft
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2015-01-02
Monday, 02 March 2015 12:01 PM
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