Monday, March 6, 2017

What You Need to Know About Preventing Tax Fraud

As we enter into the 2017 tax season, it is imperative to take extra precaution when filing your return to prevent exposure to tax fraud. People who commit tax fraud use clever tactics to obtain personal information from their unsuspecting victims and submit false tax claims. It’s is important to know what to do and what not to do during tax time in order to keep your personal information private and prevent tax fraud.

  1. File Early: Give criminals less time to use your information to falsify tax claims. Generally, false claims are filed earlier in the year and victims are unaware until they file their actual return and learn one has already been filed in their name.

  1. Find a Tax Preparer You Trust: When handing over personal information, be sure to use a reputable service. Do your homework ahead of time so you are not scrambling at the last minute.

  1. Use a Secure Mailbox: If you are doing your taxes by mail, do not mail your tax return from home. Criminals have been known to look for prepared tax forms in home mailboxes during tax season. Instead, use a mailbox at the post office.

  1. Use protected WiFi: Many people file electronically, and that’s great, as long as you’re  connected to a password-protected personal network. Avoid using public networks whenever there is personal information involved, especially tax preparation.

  1. Don’t Fall for Phishing Scams: Know that the IRS will not contact you by phone, email, text, or social media. The IRS will contact you by mail first if they need any information.
  1. File or Shred: Keep any sensitive documents that you need in a secure location. Be sure to shred anything you don’t need containing personal information.

  1. Keep Track of Mail: If anything seems to be missing or tampered with, such as W-2’s, your tax refund, or other mail containing financial information, contact the IRS right away.

If you have been a victim of tax identity theft or if the IRS denies your tax return because one has already been filed in your name, alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. You should also:  

  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Contact your bank to see if any accounts were opened without your permission or tampered with.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit records through the three major credit bureaus:

Learn more about how to keep your money safe and secure by visiting McHenry Savings Bank website or calling (815) 385-3000 .