Tax-related crimes may be down, but your guard should always be up. Stay safe this tax season.
The Federal Trade Commission recently kicked off its Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, which just so happened to coincide with the start of the IRS tax filing season. This is a great time of year to make a plan to protect yourself as you file your personal or businesses taxes for 2017. Tax-related identity theft is a big-money crime, and the statistics prove it. The IRS stopped 19 million suspicious tax returns in 2014, and stopped more than $63 billion in fraudulent refunds. A whopping $5.8 billion in tax refunds were paid out to fraudsters. While the FTC says that tax-related identity crimes are down, your guard should always remain up.
Here’s what you can do to stay safe this tax season.
Filing Electronically Is Easy, But Prepare Your Computer First
Double check to make sure that your spyware and anti-virus definitions are up to date. Run a spyware and malware check, and employ the use of a firewall before transmitting any data. If you’re using a hosted service, be sure that the service uses encryption technology and a secure server.
About Those Walk-in Services…
It’s important to scope out any walk-in facility for your own privacy and security. How is the office? Is it organized? Are files locked away? Are conversations happening with other people around, or can you talk freely about your personal information away from other ears? Are computer monitors visible or out of view? Does the facility routinely shred documents?
If You’re Sending It the Old-Fashioned Way…
Are you planning to file your taxes the old fashioned way at the post office? Be sure to send your tax returns during business hours. Never leave stamped documents in an overnight box. Pay the extra fee for certified mail with a return receipt to ensure your returns will get to where they need to go. Don’t leave these documents in an outgoing box for anyone to pick up.
Don’t Ditch Those Records!
Before you file, make sure you have all of the documents necessary. Are you missing any W2s? Did your client send you a 1099? Did your mortgage provider send an annual interest statement? If anything is missing, it could mean that you are at risk for identity theft. Confirm that all pertinent documents were sent to you.
When it’s time to toss old tax returns, be sure to shred anything containing personal info. Home shredders are not recommended because they merely crosscut documents, which are easily pieced together by thieves. Legal Shred can come to your place of business or home for a one-time shredding service. Our mobile shredding trucks can shred more paper more efficiently, making the documents themselves useless and unable to be used ever again.
Knowing that your tax documents are being taken care of by professionals will give you the greatest peace of mind, which we feel is the greatest benefit to our mobile shredding services. Legal Shred handles your tax information in the most professional and secure way, and we provide a certificate of destruction upon completion
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