This year, taxes are due on Tuesday, April 18th instead of the usual April 15th due to it being a Saturday and Easter weekend. Monday, April 17th is a federal holiday so that is why Tuesday is Tax Day. Most people look forward to receiving their tax refunds. However, while it is nice to receive a refund – tax season is also the perfect time for identity theft. According to Cyberscout.com, identity theft affects nearly 260,000 Americans each year. It can happen to anyone not just Rhode Islanders.
A criminal can use your stolen social security number or personal tax identification number to fraudulently file a tax return in your name. They cash in by having your refund re-routed to a different address or bank account.
Be careful with your personal information and be skeptical of phone calls, letters, or emails from people claiming to be the IRS or other organizations. Never give out personal information like bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers — to people you don’t know and trust.
It takes an average of three months for victims of tax return fraud to receive their refunds while the IRS works to resolve the issue.
Some basic tips for preventing identity theft during tax season are:
- File Early. The IRS flags a second return as suspicious, so file early, before the bad guys.
- Be cautious with email.
- Clear out old computers.
- Use strong passwords.
- Read the fine print.
- Go electronic. Opt for direct deposit of tax refunds to avoid lost or stolen refund checks.
- Choose tax preparers carefully. Avoid unscrupulous companies with a public history of stealing personal data.
- Keep sensitive tax data secure on a password-protected or encrypted external drive and store in a secure location.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment.
- Threaten to arrest you.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question that amount or appeal.
Click here for more tips from Selective Insurance. While these five tips can help you prevent tax-related identity theft, it’s impossible to completely eliminate your risk. If you believe you’re the victim of tax-related identity theft, visit the IRS website to learn how to report and correct the situation.
Protecting your identity is, of course, something to be mindful of all year round – not just during tax season. To add identity protection to your insurance policy, contact us at John Andrade Insurance today at 401-253-6542.