Tax season is here, and with that comes an increase in identify thefts. Tax-related identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information, including your social security number, to file a tax return claim or tax benefit. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way of avoiding tax identity theft. However, the West University Police Department wants to provide residents with steps that can be taken to reduce the chance of becoming a victim.
- File early. File your tax return as soon as you're able, giving criminals less time to use your information to file a false return.
- File on a protected wi-fi network. If you're using an online service to file your return, be sure you're connected to a password-protected personal network. Avoid using public networks.
- Use a secure mailbox. If you're filing by mail, drop your tax return at the post office or an official postal box instead of your home mailbox. Some criminals look for completed tax return forms in home mailboxes during tax season.
- Find a tax preparer you trust. If you're planning to hire someone to do your taxes, get recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before handing over your financial information.
- Shred what you don't need. Once you've completed your tax return, shred the sensitive documents that you no longer need and safely file away the ones you do.
- Beware of phishing scams by email, text or phone. Scammers may try to solicit sensitive information by impersonating the IRS. Know that the IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail first.
- Keep an eye out for your routine mail, such as W-2s, tax refunds, account statements, and other mail containing your financial information. If you don't receive your W-2s, and your employer indicates they've been mailed, or it looks like it has been previously opened upon delivery, contact the IRS immediately.
If you believe you are a victim of tax identity theft, contact the West University Place Police Department immediately at, 713-668-0330.