Protect Your Identity During Tax Season
Article from Tallahassee.com, written by U.S. Florida Senator Marco Rubio
With the 2014 tax filing season under way, millions of people have begun sorting through bank statements, receipts, and W-2 forms to prepare this year’s filings for the IRS.
As the April 15th deadline approaches, so does the ideal time for identity thieves to steal taxpayers’ information from personal documents. With just three basic pieces of information — a name, a date of birth and a Social Security number — identity thieves can file false forms and collect fraudulent refunds from the IRS, holding up your refund and putting you at risk of other types of fraud. It’s as easy as going through trash cans and dumpsters or misusing the name of a legitimate business to trick you into revealing personal information.
In 2012, the Treasury Department reported more than 1.2 million cases of tax identity theft, and according to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida was ranked first in the nation for identity theft, with 69,795 reported complaints. The highest rate of complaints came from Miami, where there were 645 complaints of identity theft per 100,000 residents.
While fraudsters have traditionally targeted Florida’s senior citizens, victims can come from any walk of life. All taxpayers need to be aware of their vulnerabilities and the things they can do to protect their identities and avoid fraud this time of year.
Steps as simple as safely disposing of personal information and securing your Social Security number can go a long way toward protecting your identity. You should also never respond to messages asking for personal or financial information.
It’s also important to look for the following red flags that your identity may have been stolen: mistakes on your bank, credit card or other account statements; late statements and bills; bills or collection notices for products or services you never received; or a notice from the IRS that someone used your Social Security number.