By the end of this month, you should be getting your W-2 so you can file your taxes. But you'll want to make sure no one beats you to it.
Identity thieves want to get their hands on your tax return.
There are all kinds of ways your identity can be used by thieves, to open new lines of credit or raid your accounts. But with the right information, they can also get their hands on your tax return.
"It's one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft and year-over-year the IRS is seeing even more cases," Marley Prunty-Lara of the Center for Financial Resources said.
In two years the Internal Revenue Service stopped nearly 15 million suspicious returns, but those are only the ones that were caught. But how do you know if someone is using your identity to file a fake return?
"You'll get a notice that you've already filed your taxes this year; or you'll get notice that there's an employer with your W-2 and you've never worked for them," Prunty-Lara said.
There are ways to cut down on your risk:
- First, file early, before thieves have the chance.
- As always, guard your personal information especially your Social Security number.
- If you're filing taxes on your computer use a secure Internet connection and anti-virus software.
- Shred any copies of tax documents that contain that information that you don't need to keep.
"Also take steps immediately if you notice there is a problem. If you're getting an error, if there's something on there you don't recognize; if you're getting notices you should have filed and it was a tax year you didn't need to file, contact the IRS immediately," Prunty-Lara said.
Remember the IRS will NEVER contact you by email and ask for information. You can fill out IRS form 8821. It's a tax information authorization form that will guarantee you get all IRS communications, even if a criminal files a return in your name.