Tax season is here and for some, getting a refund is an enticement to file early. As Better Business Bureau's Rebecca Barr recommends, filing your taxes early is also a way to avoid tax identity theft.
Barr says tax identity theft occurs when someone gets access to your Social Security number and uses it to get a tax refund. If it happens to you, you will most likely get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return has been filed in your name, or that the IRS has records you worked for an employer you may have never heard of.
What can you do to get this rectified if it happens to you? Contact the IRS.
"The best thing to do is reach out to the IRS. You can contact them through their website or through their toll-free phone number. Then you will want to put a fraud alert on your credit report. That will make it harder for a someone to open more accounts in your name, and file early. You should have your W2 and tax documents by now. The sooner you file, the less opportunity someone else has to file in your place," Barr said.
BBB also recommends using a reputable tax preparer, whether online or in-person.
"You want to make sure they are legitimately handling your taxes and personal information appropriately. Also it is good to know how they are protecting your information since taxes most often contain your most sensitive information," Barr said.
If you have to submit your taxes through mail, drop off your paperwork at the actual post office, not from your personal or local mailbox on the street. Barr also advises sending your taxes as certified mail.
For more resources visit www.bbb.org.