It’s tax season again. While some people face this time of the year with dread, many Americans receive their largest check of the year in the form of a tax return. But keep one thing in mind: criminals could be waiting for those returns as well. You should learn how to protect your tax returns from identity theft, and believe that your efforts can work.
Reported tax return thefts dropped considerably in 2017 as a result of federal and state governments working together. However, 242,000 taxpayers still had their returns stolen. Protecting your refund means keeping your personal information hidden from potential identity thieves.
Protect Your Social Security Number
Your social security number is your most personal piece of financial information. It can make you vulnerable to all types of identity theft. While it is a necessary piece of information for identification, there are ways to ensure your SSN doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
- Leave your social security card at home.
- Do not carry documents that have your social security number listed on them.
- Only provide your SSN when it is completely necessary and you are certain you know who you’re talking to.
- Read your Social Security Administration statement each year to ensure the information is correct.
- Make sure you use strong, effective passwords when processing tax returns and other personal information online.
Lock Your Mailbox
Important documents like bank statements, medical results, and bills can contain your private financial information. Keeping your box locked will avoid making you an obvious target. Even junk mail can be potentially useful to identity thieves. Pre-approved credit card forms, for example, can be used as a first step toward total identity theft.
It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of disposing of dangerous offers in the same way you destroy personal documents. You can reduce unwanted junk mail at the Direct Marketing Website.
Use Direct Deposit to Protect Your Tax Returns from Identity Theft
Waiting for your tax refund to arrive in the mail allows more time and potential for identity thieves to do their work. Instead, have your refund deposited directly into your credit union account.
Using direct deposit is easy. Your tax preparer will file your paperwork as usual, and the refund will automatically be added to the account you choose. Direct deposit also means you could get your return quickly, usually in three weeks or less.
Contact us for more information regarding how to protect your tax returns from identity theft or for additional details about using direct deposit for your returns.