Simple Tips To Avoid Identity Theft

HR Block FINAL

It’s tax season and everyone knows what that means. Whether you’re a small business business owner or an employee filing, people across the globe are getting their affairs in order so they can get some of that hard earned money back in 2016. I myself have been gearing up for taxes for the last several months and am pleased that all of my planning has helped me make my taxes as simple as possible this year. There are a lot of pitfalls surrounding tax time and I know a lot of people might not be as aware of them as they should be. From being unprepared with the necessary documents to trying to file independently without the help of a professional, like those Block Advisors at H&R Block, there are many things that could go wrong if you aren’t careful.

One big issue that is becoming more dangerous with each passing year is the risk of tax identity theft. Some of my readers might be scratching their heads and wondering how on earth they’d become a victim of this serious sounding theft. Well, it’s quite simple really. Tax identity theft occurs when  someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax refund.

What are the warning signs or how do you know if someone has used your information to file a fraudulent return?

  • More than one tax return was filed using your SSN.
  • You find out that you owe additional tax, refund, offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you didn’t file a tax return.
  • IRS record indicate you received waves or other income from a company that you never worked for.
Now that you know of the risks to your private information and what the signs are, I’d love to share some tips with my readers on how you can protect yourselves against this type of fraudulent activity. You can never be too careful and it’s always great to have a handy bag of tricks up your sleeves, especially when it comes to private information.
  1. NEVER carry your Social Security card with you in your purse or wallet. It’s far too easy for you to misplace or for someone to steal right out from under you. Even accidentally misplacing it while out running errands can put you into hot water if it falls into the wrong hands.
  2. Often times you’ll receive an email from an unknown sender and the email will have an attachment file attached. DO NOT open the attachment from anyone you don’t know or without checking from the sender first, if you know them personally. Accounts come under attack from outside sources all the time. I never open an attachment without asking first or without knowing the sender because of these types of tricks that hacks use.
  3. Beware the phishing scams. For years hackers have been tricking people by disguising their hacking techniques with copies of login information or websites that appear to be the real deal but that are just clever disguises that allow them to get you to input your private information.
  4. Install security software with firewalls onto your personal computer.
  5. When coming up with or changing your passwords, make sure that your password is a strong one and not one that is easily guessed or figured out. Having a weak password or using the same password for multiple accounts can open you up for disaster, especially when it comes to imputing your Social Security number in anywhere.
  6. Utilize Block Advisor’s Tax Identity Shield – you’ll get early detection of any fraudulent returns submitted through Block Advisors with a notification to a secure email address! Plus, you’ll get expert guidance and support with their restoration services, in the event of tax identity theft.
Protecting yourself against fraud has never been more important. When filing your taxes this year I hope my readers will keep these tips in mind and use them whenever possible to avoid being hit by hackers or scams. And remember, with more than 280 Block Advisors offices across the country, you can think of Block Advisors as your hometown tax advisors!