Few things are as personal as doing your taxes. You offer personal information, social security information, addresses, dependents names and birth dates, and so much more. Approximately 1.5 million fraudulent tax returns were filed in 2011 using stolen identities, resulting in over $5 billion in refunds claimed and paid out. Securing your tax information is our highest priority and the eSmart Tax system applies the most current security precautions to ensure that your information continues to be safe.
You too, can practice security precautions to reduce the risk of becoming the victim of an identity theft scam. Below are some of the best practices for keeping your information away from thieves:
- File your tax return as early as possible to avoid giving opportunities to identity thieves to file before you do. The IRS will reject tax returns filed under the same social security number. Make sure your return is filed early, so that if a thief has stolen your information, the transaction can be easier to identify. Catching the thief will be easier as well.
- Check your mailbox often. With tax documents coming in through the mail, make sure you retrieve these documents out of your mailbox before thieves have the opportunity to get them.
- Do not give any personal information to the IRS via email, text message, or social media channels. The IRS will not ask for this, so it is likely a scam. Forward any suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Choose a very strong password for your efile account. eSmart Tax requires that you use a password that contains upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a special character.
- If you have concerns that you may be at risk for identity theft or concerned about someone filing a fraudulent return, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 so they can take action to secure your tax account.
- Only perform transactions when shopping online at a site if it is encrypted and secure. If you are unsure whether a store front is encrypted, contact the retailer’s support staff BEFORE buying from them.
- Obtain your credit report annually. Review it for unusual activity.
- Take your social security card, birth certificate and passport out of your car, glove compartment, pocket, and/or wallet. Leave these important documents at home in a locked location—preferably a safe.
- If you suspect any unusual activity on any accounts or credit cards, contact your financial institution immediately to cut off access to a potential thief.
- Similarly, make sure any documents with account information or other numbers are shredded and disposed of properly.
- Stay aware of current tax scams by checking the eSmart Tax blog for the latest information. You can also check the IRS’s tax scams and consumer alerts page here.