With the significant 2017 cybersecurity leaks involving the personal information of millions of Americans, this year’s tax season is expected to be one of the worst ever for tax scams. Aside from cybersecurity leaks, the mailing of 1099s and W2s results in many people not receiving them through mailbox theft, which is contributing to more cases of tax returns being fraudulently filed. Many companies now have employees pick up these tax filing forms from the HR department as a means to protect the personal information of their employees. Scammers also target HR departments via emails requesting employee information while posing as the IRS, which has corporations on edge to maintain the security of employee information.
This year’s scam season officially opens January 29th, 2018 and runs through April 17, 2018; interestingly the same dates as the 2017 IRS tax filing season. Scammers are ready and waiting to file tax returns in the names of other people. Experts advise filing early ahead of scammers to make sure you get your return and someone else doesn’t. Hundreds of thousands of people will file their taxes this year expecting a return, only to find out the return was sent somewhere else. What can you do to protect yourself?
File Early. The sooner you file, the more chance you have to be ahead of the scammer who will likely file multiple returns.
File Electronically with Request for Direct Deposit. Electronic filing is faster than paper filing. Secondly, select direct deposit into your bank account to offset the chance your paper check will be stolen from your mailbox if you are expecting a return. Mailing the tax return your filing from your mailbox is a bad idea as your mail to the IRS runs the chance of being stolen.
Run your Credit Report. Your credit report will contain an active address for you and previous addresses. If you see a discrepancy and unknown address in your profile, you may be the target of a scam. Alert the credit reporting agencies immediately, and all companies where you have credit.
If there’s anything that should motivate you to get your taxes filed early, it’s the increased potential for tax scam the longer you wait. Happy filing!