Don't be a Victim: Taxes and ID Theft

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Tax time is here. You have probably have gotten those W-2's and other information in the mail already.

As you get ready to file, there are some important things you need to know to protect yourself from tax season scammers.  We talked with Investment Adviser Pete Lang in this week's "Don't be a Victim" report.

"Tax fraud, social security fraud, it's all out there, it's happening, and now with these hundreds of millions of Social Security numbers that are out there, we think it's going to get a little bit worse," Lang said.

You may not be the only one who smells a refund this tax season. Criminals are always working to get their hands on your hard-earned money. Lang says
to make sure to check that your W-2's are correct and legitimate, and if you are due a refund, file as soon as possible.

"The way to prevent someone from stealing your refund before they can, number one and number two, you can always raise the number of withholdings you have and lower the amount you have going into the government. I know we all like to get that check for a refund, but try to get it out to zero because if you don't have a refund coming, guess what? Nobody is going to want to steal your account," he said.

Lang says thanks to data breaches such as the one by Equifax that exposed hundreds of millions of Social Security numbers, it's also important for everyone to open their own online account with the Social Security Administration.

"Log on today and open your account to make sure that you are the one getting those social security questions on your account, and once you own that account, it is going to be easier to prevent someone from going in and take over your social security account."

Lang adds that if you are e-filing, make sure to have security software with firewall and anti-virus protection. Don't use public wi-fi and don't leave those important tax documents in the open where someone else can steal your information.

If you do think you are a victim of ID theft, document everything and report it to the IRS as soon as possible.

You can file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and you may also want to contact the fraud departments of the major three credit bureaus to let them know.

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