Death, Taxes and Fraud
Most Americans find that the stress of tax season is heavy enough that there’s no need to add to it. However, this is exactly what some fiends plan to do this year.
According to the AARP, tax filers need to be on their guard against fraudsters – who scheme, scam and Dumpster-dive in an attempt to separate honest Americans from their money.
AARP warns that 15.6% of all ID theft complaints lodged across the U.S. in 2010 were rooted in taxes or wages. A full 24.1% of all ID theft complaints in that year pertained to taxes or wages, AARP said.
Fraudsters steal a person’s Social Security number – and other vital information – by obtaining tax filing documents. They then use that data to create a false identity, and use the victim’s basic personal information as a way to do such things as set up fraudulent credit accounts, obtain employment and claim someone else’s children as their dependents.
After all, your tax filings are a handy treasure-trove of useful information for thieves. So, make sure that thieves cannot get their hands on yours. AARP suggests that you:
Mail your return directly from the post office. Don’t use your unprotected mailbox. Electronic filers should use a secure network (no public WiFi, for instance), and use encryption.
Make sure that all your expected tax documents have arrived by mid-February (now!). If any source of income hasn’t sent yours by then, contact them and see what’s up.
If you plan to use a tax preparer, make sure that you check any prospect out thoroughly. Get references, and check them. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous types who will take advantage of your trust – and their access to your documents – to steal from you.
The AARP is offering some good advice here; take it. And be very careful this tax season, since paying taxes is enough trouble for most people. You don’t need thieves adding to your “tax burden.”
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