The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) declared January 29 through February 2 as Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. However, Florida consumers should remain on guard against tax identity theft throughout tax season. In 2017, scammers stole more than $227,000,000 in fraudulent tax refunds, and tax experts predict even more tax-related crime in 2018. Following the Equifax data breach, approximately 145.5 million Americans now have exposed personal data. Unfortunately, identity thieves in Florida and other states will likely use this data to commit tax fraud. So, this year, all consumers should exercise extreme caution with their tax returns. Just take a few extra measures, and keep your data and your refund safe from fraudsters.
How Florida Consumers Can Protect Themselves Against Tax Identity Theft
If an identity thief files a fraudulent tax return in your name, they can steal your tax refund, and you may or may not get it back. Even when Florida consumers can reclaim stolen tax refunds, it normally takes a very long time. Fortunately, you can take certain actions against tax identity theft, claim your refund, and use it to pay bills, take a vacation, or whatever else you need or want.
First and foremost, all consumers in Florida should file their tax returns as early as possible this year. This way, you can get your taxes in, and your refund back before fraudsters have an opportunity to make you the next victim of tax identity theft. In addition, take the following security measures throughout tax season and all-year-round.
Always use a secure internet connection when filing taxes electronically.
If you file your taxes while using public Wi-Fi, hackers can easily break in, steal your information, and commit tax identity theft in your name. In fact, Florida consumers should avoid sharing any type of personal data while connected to pubic Wi-Fi.
Mail your tax return from the post office instead of from home.
Unfortunately, scammers know what season it is too. Therefore, many will look for opportunities to rob mail boxes, and steal completed tax returns. So, don’t risk it. If you are mailing in your tax return this year, do it from the post office, where the chances of theft are smaller.
Don’t immediately trust emails or phone calls that look like they are from the IRS.
When making initial contact with Florida consumers, the IRS never calls or send emails. Typically, it sends official notices through the mail. Therefore, if you suddenly receive an email or phone call “from the IRS,” treat it with skepticism. Always verify the source of the communication before offering up money or sensitive data.
Shred all tax-related documents as soon as you no longer need them.
Even though a lot of identity thieves in Florida use sophisticated technology to steal consumer information, some still rely on old-fashioned dumpster-diving. Because of this, you should never just throw away any document containing personal information. Instead, invest in a small, affordable shredder. Or, you can visit your local Florida FedEx branch for inexpensive shredding services.
Carefully research tax preparers before trusting anyone with your information.
Sadly, during tax season, some fraudsters in Florida impersonate tax preparers. They set up shop in strip malls, attract clients, then steal their money and information before skipping town. Understanding this reality, you should only trust reputable tax services with your tax returns.
Check your credit reports to make sure that you’re not a victim of any type of identity theft.
Finally, even though tax identity theft is a big concern right now, all types of identity theft threaten Florida consumers on a regular basis. Even if you take every possible precaution to keep your information safe, fraudsters might steal your data. Yet, you can minimize identity theft damage to credit scores by regularly checking your credit reports.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) entitles all consumers in Florida to free copies of their credit reports from the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months. Just go to www.annualcreditreport.com to request credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Then, while reviewing your credit reports, if you spot signs of identity theft, file a police report immediately. Next, contact Credit Repair Lawyers of America in Florida.
Florida identity theft victims have enough to worry about without having to deal with creditors and the credit bureaus. So, let our credit pros do the work for you. You’ll also get immediate access to an experienced credit attorney who will do whatever it takes to get you clean credit reports for FREE.
The Free and Legal Way to Get Better Credit After Identity Theft
Don’t let fraudulent accounts on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (813) 940-7255 or sending him a message through our contact page.
For more information about Free Credit Repair After Identity Theft, check out https://creditrepairlawyersam.com/florida/fix-identity-theft/.