Tax season is upon us and that means it is prime time for identity thieves. As you get ready to file your returns we want you to remember to stay vigilant about protecting your identity, because tax season is an opportune time for fraudsters to use stolen identities and cash in on your refund.
With just your Social Security Number an identity thief can fill out fake job history and false paperwork to make off with your refund. The best thing you can do to prevent this is to file early—beat the thief to your refund! But there's also a host of things you can do throughout the year to protect yourself from identity theft.
One of the most critical measures you can take to protect your identity and future tax returns is to secure your Social Security Number.
The nine digits of your SSN are one of the most valuable things you will ever own. You need those digits to get on the payroll at work, apply for credit or a mortgage, access government programs, and even obtain a license. Not only is it the gateway to many essentials, it stays with you for life; in fact, the Social Security Administration only issues out new numbers under rare and extreme circumstances.
Have we fully stressed how vital it is to keep your SSN safe? Okay, good! Here are a few ways you can secure your SSN throughout the year to keep both your identity and your refund all yours:
- Don't carry your SSN card in your wallet or on you. There are only a few occasions in which you need your SSN card physically with you, so keeping it secure at home, for example in a safe, is a great idea.
- Do not make copies of your SSN outside the home. Copy machines are much more advanced than they used to be and can now hold large memory banks of scanned or copied documents. Avoid compromising your SSN and make copies at home.
- Shred all documents with your SSN on them. Any documents you are not filing away in a secure place that contain your SSN should be shredded before they are trashed.
- Never use your SSN as a security question or PIN. You might think this is obvious, but many people use they're SSNs as security questions or passwords, which can then be exposed in password breaches.
- Do not give out your SSN unnecessarily. If the Social Security information field is marked optional, don't submit it, because you can never really know what kind of security measures another company is taking to keep your information secure. If giving your SSN is not optional try to look for an alternative such as only giving the last four digits of your SSN or providing a different way of verifying your id. Don't be afraid to challenge a doctor's office or bank if you're not comfortable providing your Social Security information.
Identity Guard is committed to helping you not only protect yourself from identity theft, but also understand how it can happen. Count on us to get tips and advice to help guard against all sorts of identity related fraud, including tax fraud.
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