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August 29, 2013

How to Safeguard your Tax Returns from Identity Theft

Tax season may be over for this year, but that doesn’t mean that identity thieves aren’t hard at work gathering the information they need to file fake tax returns in your name next year. Identity thieves only need your Social Security number and birth date to file for a tax return in your name. With these key pieces of information, they can make up the rest of the facts required by the form and send it off to wrongly receive money that belongs to you. And because the IRS doesn’t check the validity of each request until after the return check is sent out, your tax return money could very well be on its way to the wrong person!

The only way you can help prevent someone from stealing your information and falsely receiving your tax return is to proactively safeguard your private information.

PROSHRED® suggests these tips for protecting your tax information year around:

·File Early—You can get ahead of identity thieves during tax season by filing for your tax return as early as possible. Thieves can’t receive money that has already been claimed!

·Organize Your Records—Organizing your financial records will make you more prepared for the next tax season and help you keep track of what information you have (or what could have been lost or stolen). Then when you decide to use a financial records shredding service or delete files you no longer need, you won’t be destroying information you may need.

·Properly Dispose of Old Records—Most IRS correspondence comes through the mail as paper documents. That information, plus other documents that may carry personal information can be disposed of when they’re no longer needed. PROSHRED® offers secure financial records shredding services that will destroy your documents safely by trusted experts so that no identity thieves can access any part of your information.

·Withhold Your Information from Questionable Sources—Do not respond to questionable emails or calls from someone claiming to work for the IRS requesting personal information. If you’re not sure if you have actually been contacted by the IRS or not, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, and check on the validity of the correspondence.

·Send Off Your Tax Return with Care—If you are sending in your tax return form by mail, take it directly to the post office and send it by certified mail. If you’re e-filing, do not use a public internet source; connect to an Ethernet cable if possible. Doing so cuts off possible moments where thieves could intercept your information.

TIME reported that as of September 2012 the IRS was dealing with 650,000 cases of identity theft, putting the IRS an entire season behind fixing the problem and giving thieves more chances to take advantage of your valuable information. Secure your personal tax information by following good record keeping practices and contact PROSHRED® for all of your financial records shredding needs.

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