Now that the IRS has allowed for electronic tax returns or “e-filing,” it’s never been easier to do your taxes. This is good news if you are expecting a refund, because you can get your money faster and even by direct deposit. The bad news is this technology opens up more opportunities for taxpayers to have their identities stolen.
This type of fraud is nothing new though. Criminals have been trying to steal tax refunds by accessing your private information via mail and e-mail for years. Whether you file online or the old fashion way, always remember these papers and files contain the type of personal information hackers and identity thieves want to get their hands on. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
Keep an eye on your accounts
It’s always a good idea to regularly monitor the activity in your checking and savings accounts. This is even more important during tax season. If a criminal accessed your Social Security or account number, they’re counting on you to not notice withdrawals from your accounts. Be vigilant, use your online banking and mobile banking features and watch for activity you don’t recognize.
That mid-April deadline may seem like a long way off, but there’s no need to procrastinate. Once an identity thief accesses a taxpayer’s Social Security number, they quickly file false returns. In other words, cashing in YOUR refund check. By filing early and getting your refund quickly, you reduce the chance of someone else filing in your name.
Double Check Mail and E-mails
If you’ve received correspondence from what appears to be the IRS regarding theft, it could be a scam. Never provide your Social Security number or direct deposit information in letters or emails. If you suspect a letter impersonating the IRS, look up your local IRS office and report it. DO NOT use a number listed on the letter or email. You can also check the document you received against the IRS documents related to identity theft.
Finally, if you feel you have been the victim of identity theft related to tax fraud, follow the steps outlined by the IRS. As a local community bank, Legacy National Bank has a vested interest in protecting our customers and the financial future of our region. We appreciate your help in doing everything we can to protect your legacy.