10 Tax Time Identity Safety Tips

Don’t let yourself become an identity theft victim – especially during tax time. Here are some top tips from WhatHappensNow.com and our interview with the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse:

  1. Start a Tax Folder

    Keep all of your tax forms, files and scratch paper together in a folder or binder. Keep the folder safe and with you at all times.

  2. Extra Documents

    Need a copy of old tax returns, filing instructions or other important information? Head to IRS.gov for fact sheets and other publications.

  3. Don't Throw! Shred!

    Throwing away old records? Use a cross-cut shredder before discarding.

    • Make sure you know what to keep and what to toss: read the IRS’ publication on Recordkeeping
  4. Phishing for Information

    Watch out for “phishing” e-mail scams.

    • These fraudulent emails might look like they’re coming from a financial or government institution (IRS) but are really scammers trying to get your personal or financial information.

  5. E-filing

    Check your to see if your spyware and anti-virus software is turned on and up-to-date before entering data and sending off your completed forms.

  6. Direct deposit refunds or payments

    Make sure to double-triple-quadruple check your account and routing numbers on your paper or online forms before sending them in.

  7. Keep Copies

    Make sure to keep copies of all the forms and returns you send in.

  8. Sending Tax Returns or Checks by Mail

    Do not leave outgoing checks or mail with sensitive information in your mailbox – they could be stolen. Instead, avoid mail theft by mailing all items at the post office.

  9. Refunds in the Mail

    If you're expecting a refund or important information, pick up your mail as soon as you have the chance. If you’re headed out of town, arrange for your mail to be held at the post office or have a friend or neighbor pick it up.

  10. If you think you might be a victim of identity theft: Read Help - Identity Theft for recovery tips from financial experts, police officers and past victims.

Updated: 3/2010