The April 15th deadline is just around the corner, and tax season stress is here. You’re careful to compile all of your receipts and to fill out the forms completely, but you should be especially careful to protect your identity. With checks being exchanged and sensitive tax information being left at your doorstep, tax season puts identity theft at an all-time high. In 2013, the IRS paid nearly $6 billion in refunds to people submitting false claims using someone else’s identity. Here are four tips to protect yourself from fraud and find your Zen during tax season:
1. Get Your Mail Right Away
Identity thieves are able to steal your information by getting your social security number and then filing a claim in your name with their address. Identity thieves retrieve this sensitive information from the tax documents that get mailed to you. Don’t leave your mail out in the mailbox; bring it in as soon as you can so that identity thieves can’t steal it.
2. File Your Taxes Early
In order to prevent someone from filing a claim in your name, file your taxes early. Identity thieves won’t be able to take your tax return if you’ve already filed it.
3. Check Your Credit Score
In order to reclaim your identity quickly, you need to catch an identity thief early. Regularly check your credit score, especially during tax season, to find evidence of your identity being stolen. If the numbers don’t match up to your behavior, investigate what might be causing the discrepancy.
4. Use Check-Safe Ink
Most pens do not penetrate the surface of checks deeply. Identity thieves take advantage of this and steal people’s identity through check washing. Check washing is the process of stealing a personal check that has been filled out, using chemicals to wash off the information, and then filling in their own information. Pens like Zebra Pen’s Orbitz Gel Pen feature check-safe ink, which is ink that penetrates the surface of checks deep enough to withstand most check washing techniques. Tax season can be stressful and confusing. Protect your identity by being mindful: Use a SARASA Clip with check-safe ink, and you’ll be one step closer to a hassle-free tax season.