It’s that time of year again. Everybody’s thinking about taxes, the scammers know this, and increase their activity. You already know the IRS will never contact you by text or email. You know not to click on links in emails you didn’t expect to receive. Here are several more steps you can take to help protect yourself against scams and identity theft:
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required. (I actually threw a small tantrum last year when I was buying a used car, and they insisted they had to have my SSN even though I was paying cash. I will not be returning to that dealership.)
- Protect your financial information. Shred, shred, shred.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts. Is your password “password” or “password1”? Go change them right now.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and are sure of the recipient. And even then, think to yourself, do they really need to know this?
- Be careful when you choose a tax preparer. Most preparers provide excellent service, but there are a few who are unscrupulous. Refer to Tips to Help you Choose a Tax Preparer for more details. http://www.irs.gov/uac/How-to-Choose-a-Tax-Return-Preparer-and-Avoid-Preparer-Fraud-2010