Identity Thieves Can Strike During Tax Season
|By Richard Anguiano, Ocala Star-Banner, Fla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
It's also the time in which identity thieves try to intercept the personal information in documents taxpayers use to file their returns, with the aim of filing false tax forms and collecting bogus refunds from the
In a presentation to the
"What (identity thieves) have done is just made up fake W-2 forms to create fake income to get fake refunds," Fracassi said. "The whole idea is that once they have the
Fracassi, who is also a member of the board of governors of the
That means securing any documents containing such information.
For example, taxpayers who don't get their W-2 earnings statements hand-delivered at the office or through a secured electronic network might want to ask their employer when the forms are to be mailed and, if possible, be waiting at the mailbox at their postal carrier's regular delivery time.
Likewise, since year-end statements from banks or brokerage houses often arrive by
As for birthdates, Fracassi suggests taxpayers avoiding putting them on social media sites.
Taxpayers should also choose carefully if they are designating someone else to prepare their returns. Fracassi noted anyone can check the status of a
For those choosing to have other tax preparation services do their returns, Fracassi suggests taxpayers do their homework on the companies and ask each company for its Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN, issued by the
Meanwhile, plenty of pitfalls await taxpayers online. In her
Fracassi urges taxpayers to be extremely wary of sharing any data online, particularly through email.
"Everybody needs to know one thing, the
He also suggests taking care before filing a return online.
"There are some free sites that are out there," Fracassi said. "You need to think, 'How did I get there? Did I get there through the
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