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How to Protect Your Tax Refund From Identity Thieves

During 2014, the Internal Revenue Service estimates they issued approximately $6.5 billion in bogus tax refunds due to identity theft. Unfortunately, identity theft is becoming more common, impacting slightly more than seven percent of households. More than 12,157,400 cases of identity theft are estimated to occur on an annual basis. Everyone is potentially a victim which means you must have a plan in place to protect yourself from the theft of your income tax refund.

Early Filing: Protecting Yourself Through Speed

Blog How to Protect Your Tax Refund From Identity Thieves

As ridiculous as this may sound, one reason so many tax refunds are stolen is because identity thieves file a return using your social security number early in the year. The sooner you file, the more likely you are to be able to thwart identity thieves’ efforts. Since the IRS processes tax returns in the order they were received, you should file early even if it means you owe money. Keep in mind, taxes don’t have to be paid when filed, you still have until April 15 to pay your bill.

Direct Deposit: The Best Way To Fight Theft

Another common tactic for thieves is to steal your tax refund check from your mailbox. Direct deposit all refunds into your checking or savings account. If you prefer having a separate account for this purpose, you can contact Oklahoma Central Credit Union and find out about our savings, checking or IRA accounts.

Opt For Electronic Documents and Use Caution

Many employers and your mortgage lender may be willing to issue your tax forms via electronic means. Provided you are not using an open network, for example at a library or coffee shop, you should opt to receive documents electronically. This could help prevent identity thieves from stealing your refund check or gaining access to your social security number.

Watch Phone Calls and Emails

One of the methods that identity thieves may use to obtain your personal data is to contact you by telephone or email. Never provide personal information to anyone who contacts you in this manner and do not follow any email links. The IRS will never contact you by telephone or email; most financial institutions will contact you by mail if they need to reach you.

Identity theft is an ongoing problem but you can take steps to protect yourself. If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, it is a good idea to contact all the financial institutions you have accounts with as well as the Internal Revenue Service. Credit bureaus can “lock down” your credit profile and help you protect personal information. Your local credit union may also have information that can help you protect your accounts, your private information and your tax refund.

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