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Contact: Chetrice Mosley
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Seven Tips to Protect Your Identity
INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 23, 2014) — Identity theft criminals steal both money and a sense of security from their victims, and they are growing in numbers. In 2012, they stole more than $24.7 billion from the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Victims of identity theft must deal with the time and stress of reclaiming their identities. They may even find their reputations and credit ratings have been damaged, affecting their abilities to obtain loans for education or housing, approval for rental agreements, and approval for credit cards or large purchases requiring credit.
To protect their identities and potential tax refunds, the Indiana Department of Revenue recommends taxpayers consider the following seven tips during this tax season:
- Safely store your tax return documents
Once your tax return has been electronically filed, save the file to a CD, USB drive, or external drive and then delete the file from your computer. This ensures that no one can hack your computer and steal the information. Store the device in a safe, locked place. If you work with an accountant, ask him or her about the measures they take to protect your information after your return is filed.
- Watch out for scams
Tax season brings a significant increase in scam emails, phone calls, and texts. Be cautious when someone calls or emails you saying that they’re from the Indiana Department of Revenue or IRS and asks you for personal information. Neither agency will ever call or email you and ask for your personal information. If in doubt, call the IRS or Department of Revenue at publicly posted numbers to address the issue.
- Know where to be cautious
Be aware of common ways thieves can access your information. Here are some of the most common ways identity theft criminals can find your personal information:
- Posing as someone who needs your information through a phone call or email
- Looking through your trash for personal information
- Accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site or via a public Wi-Fi service
- Dispose of documents correctly
If you no longer need a document with your personal information on it, shred it. Don’t just throw it away.
- File your taxes electronically
E-filing is significantly more secure than paper filing. Individual taxpayers can file their taxes online for free if they qualify at www.freefile.dor.in.gov.
- Protect your Social Security card and number
Don’t carry your Social Security card with you. Don’t give out your SSN unless you have to, and always ask why it’s needed, how it’s going to be used and how it will be stored.
- Find the right tax preparer
Ask for recommendations and research tax preparers before you turn your personal information over to them. This is especially important if you are new to an area. For tips on finding tax preparers, visit www.in.gov/dor/4618.htm.
To learn more about how to protect your identity during this tax season, visit www.in.gov/dor/4794.htm. Hoosiers can also sign up for the Attorney General’s ID Theft Protection Toolkit at www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2853.htm.