Keeping Your Tax Return Safe
One of the reasons criminals target social security identity theft is that it becomes an easy payday between January and April of each year. According to recent reports, all you need to bilk the government of false refunds is a computer, a basic understanding of how to file tax returns, and a couple social security numbers. One woman in Florida used those tools to steal over $3 million before she was caught.
Social Security Identity Theft on the Rise
Despite the fact that it’s not getting the attention that credit-related theft does, social security number theft used to file false tax returns is rising across the country. Even drug dealers are reportedly turning to the scam as a way to line pockets. According to the Treasury Department, 1.6 million taxpayers in the first half of 2013 were impacted by identity theft, and the IRS has not been able to discover all possible incidents.
John Koskinen, the commissioner of the IRS, said that the issue of social security identity theft has exploded in recent years. The IRS continually improves processes and filters to catch fraudulent returns before money is paid, but the agency is unable to keep up with the growth of the scam.
Since the IRS can’t possibly catch every instance of fraudulent tax returns, individuals should work to protect their own information.
Create strong document destruction habits for your home and business by hiring a professional shredding company to dispose of old returns and any documents that contain your social security information.
Safeguard your social security number by keeping sensitive documents in secure filing locations and not carrying your card in your wallet.
When possible, avoid entering your social security number on forms–there are many times where a substitute number or no number at all is sufficient for forms. If you are uncomfortable sharing your SSN with an organization, ask questions about why they need it and if you can leave it blank.
How do you protect yourself from social security identity theft?