In 2014, almost 18 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity theft. During tax season, your personal information is particularly vulnerable. After all, your Social Security number (SSN) is on W-2 forms, your tax return and other financial documents being sent through the mail, transported to accountants and otherwise used to complete your annual IRS ritual. So it’s a good time of the year to be especially vigilant.
To help, here are four things you should know about identity theft from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Trade Commission:
- Thieves can file “your” taxes. Someone with access to your data could file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund under your name. You may not know until you go to file your own return and it comes back rejected. If that happens, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
- Scammers will try to reel you in. Ever get a call or email from someone asking you to verify your account information or SSN? Legitimate organizations, especially the IRS, won’t do that. If there’s a problem with your tax return, the IRS will contact you by mail.
- Technology can help. If you send tax forms or other sensitive documents via email, password-protect them. As for analog documents, such as tax records, store them in a locked desk or filing cabinet and send them through certified mail.
- Reporting the crime is a must. A police report can help prove to financial institutions and businesses that someone stole your identity. It also allows you to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report, get inaccurate information removed, stop debt collectors from reporting fraudulent accounts, and more.
Protecting your identity is, of course, important to do all year round – not just during tax season. For more tips, visit IdentityTheft.gov. And, to discuss adding identity protection coverage to your home insurance policy, contact us today!
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