Tax season involves piles of paperwork, lots of receipts, and plenty of opportunities for identity thieves. It’s important to take some steps to make sure your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
The Identity Theft Resource Center recommends the following precautions:
Shred: If there are documents you no longer need, don’t just tear them up and throw them away. Use a good cross-cut shredder instead.
Store: Be careful about storing old receipts and tax returns. Even if your paperwork is several years old, an identity thief can still use it.
Block: Millions of people now file their taxes online. Make sure your computer is protected by a firewall.
Mail: Do NOT leave tax returns or other sensitive information in your out-going mail. Take them directly to the post office and drop them off inside.
Shorten: Write only the last 4 digits of your Social Security number on your check.
Screen: Be careful about who you use to prepare your taxes. Check out companies with the Better Business Bureau, and ask about security, information storage and background checks.
This is also the perfect time of year for phishing scammers to send out phony IRS emails. Remember, the IRS does not solicit personal or financial information by email, and you should never give out this information unless you have initiated the contact and you’re sure who you are dealing with.