Well if you haven’t already done your taxes, today is the day. Post offices around the country and keeping their doors open until midnight so that tax payers can get their returns stamped in time to avoid any late payment penalties. If you haven’t done your taxes yet and don’t feel comfortable doing them yourself, it’s not too late to stop by any Check City location to have one of our tax professionals help you out. In the spirit of tax season we wanted to cover a topic that is new to a lot of people, but is definitely something you need to watch out for this tax season. It may come as a surprise to some, but as the world continues to move towards online services and tech, so do the criminals.
Last year one of the major street gangs in Miami was brought down for a crime that is sweeping the nation and bringing in billions of dollars for criminals that are able to successfully pull it off. But it was not a new drug or imported weapon that is making these gangs rich, it is our taxes.
Tax Theft is on the Rise
Tax return theft has become one of the major crimes of the past few years with the number of reported instances tripling since 2010. Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to these evolving criminals and have their tax returns stolen, exposing them to a grueling process of retribution and a seemingly endless road to recovery.
With the coming of the electronic age, criminals have successfully engineered a way to merge identity theft and tax theft to produce their ability to file fraudulent tax return claims in the names of their victims. With the understanding that a claim on a return of over $9,000 dollars will cause red flags in the IRS, criminals routinely target hundreds of individuals and file fraudulently tax returns in order to strike it rich.
The criminals and criminal organizations that enact these instances of tax fraud are extremely well versed in their crime and are very effective at its execution, which means that everyday people need to start doing more in order to protect themselves from the onslaught of tax return thieves. Luckily, there are several precautions and steps of safety that people can take to ensure that they are not one of the millions of victims this tax season.
Tips for Avoiding Tax Theft
First and foremost, the primary way in which criminals are able to pull off their tax return fraud is through securing individuals Social Security numbers and committing identity theft. So those who are able to protect their personal information are far less likely to fall victim to tax return thieves.
People should especially be cautious concerning their Social Security number, as this is the typical way in which a criminal will be able to steal a person’s identity. Keeping your Social Security card in your wallet is an extremely bad idea as a simple pick pocket could turn into a huge headache if the criminal uses your Social Security number to file a false tax return or access your bank account.
Know Your Tax Professional
Next, you will be able to protect yourself from all forms of tax fraud if you have a good and trustable relationship with the person who prepares your taxes. Walking into a random office and going over your personal and tax information with a stranger is opening yourself up for crime, so instead consider asking friends and relatives for suggestions on who they see to help file their taxes and go with someone you trust.
Beef Up Your Security
Finally, you can beef up your electronic security by adding access codes to all accounts and devices, as well as changing these codes and passwords regularly. By enacting a few of the above changes, you will be able to safely file and receive your tax return.