It’s unfortunate that identity theft and refund fraud have become commonplace in our society, especially during tax season. On the other hand, it’s reassuring to see our government agencies stepping up to protect taxpayers from this threat.
In Ohio, the Identification Confirmation Quiz has been especially successful. Last year, the quiz helped prevent an estimated $259.1 million from going to fraudsters. At a federal level, during the 2013 filing season, the IRS launched a number of counter attacks to prevent around $24.2 billion from being claimed as the result of bogus income tax returns.
Even though identity theft and refund fraud show no signs of slowing down, in addition to the state-wide and federal efforts to protect taxpayers, there are ways you can help protect yourself. During tax season, take care when choosing your tax preparer. It’s important to be sure that they take their responsibility to safeguard your information very seriously. And, all year long, take common-sense precautionary measures that include:
- Keeping your computer secure
- Avoiding phishing emails and malware
- Protecting your personal information on and offline
Few things are worse than suspecting, and then confirming, that you have had your identity stolen. Recovering from such a violation can be overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to go through it alone. Your tax preparer can help you along the way. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.
This article was originally published in the March 2016 edition of Consult The Expert column published in Columbus Business First.