Taxes may only have a season but fraud exists all-year. As you prepare for the upcoming tax season keep in mind that tax fraud is out there and criminals might be coming for your information.
Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to hack cybersecurity to commit identity-related tax crimes. But don’t let someone get your information or refund this year! By taking a few simple steps to protect your sensitive information you can greatly reduce your risk of being a fraud victim.
4 Keys To Preventing Tax Fraud
1. File ASAP
When it comes to protecting your information you are your most valuable resource and increasing your security can be done by being proactive. The first step involves being the early bird to prevent fraudsters from getting the worm.
That means file as soon as you can. While procrastinating can be fun, it’s better to file early, to file ahead of someone filing with your information. If someone files a return with your information they could get your refund. Then you will have to wait for months correct the situation.
Also, watch your mail. If you receive a letter from the IRS bring it inside and respond to it immediately. If you aren’t sure if it’s legitimate or not you can call the IRS help line for businesses or individuals.
2. Ask Questions
Don’t just accept everything a tax preparer or program tells you. Ask questions and do your background research. Look up reviews on the preparer or the program, google them, ask for references, and more.
Also, when using a program make sure it has a good security program put in place to protect your information. You will also want to make sure it has an IRS authorized badge, like TaxBandits.
3. Up Your Security
File your taxes on your own password-protected computer, and save your information on an encrypted hard drive. Also, question the internet that you’re using. Wifi with the password given out like at a cafe or wifi without a password is often not secure and you shouldn’t trust it with your sensitive information.
Don’t just throw away your tax documents
either. Send them through the shredder to make it impossible for dumpster divers to dig your information up. Also, don’t give your Social Security Number out to just anyone, only give it to trusted sources.
4. Don’t Get Phished
Tax Fraudsters will try to trick you by impersonating the IRS through phone calls and emails. Keep in mind that the IRS doesn’t send emails, so don’t open them and definitely do not respond to them or click any of the links inside. They could give your computer a few serious viruses.
Also, the IRS will not call or text you. Remember, the IRS will never ask for sensitive information such as debit or credit card information on the phone and they will never get aggressive towards you or threaten you. If you get a call demanding immediate tax information or someone will send the police after you then hang up.
Another red flag is when someone demands a single payment method or demands payment through a prepaid credit card, which can’t be traced. You can always question the amount you owe by calling the IRS.
If you see or hear anything sketchy, take action. Go to the IRS and follow the instructions for reporting certain types of tax fraud. For example, use Form 14039 to report a stolen identity and if someone used your SNN and use Form 14157 to report an abusive tax promotion or promoter.
Stay Safe This Tax Season
While tax fraud does exist and hackers are working to develop new ways to get sensitive information, you can easily protect yourself by taking a few simple steps. Being prepared, filing early, and asking questions are the keys to keeping your identity safe.
Please add your tax fraud prevention steps in the comment section below and visit TaxBandits or more tax blogs.