As tax identity theft is on the rise, the Better Business Bureau is warning you to keep a close eye on your personal information. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of criminal investigations related to identity theft over the past two years – from 276 in fiscal year 2011 to nearly 1,500 last year. Bill Smith, Better Business Bureau Investigator, says you should be on the lookout for signs that a thief has used your personal information to file an illegal tax return.
Those signs could include: an IRS notification that you have filed more than one tax return or that someone else has filed using your information; notification that you are due a refund or owe money for a year you did not file; or a notice that you received wages from an employer for whom you never worked.
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The Task Force recommends you file your return early, avoid leaving tax forms like W-2s or 1099s in unsecure locations, use secure connections when filing electronically, never disclose Social Security numbers or other sensitive information to strangers via the phone or Internet, and thoroughly research tax preparers before doing business with them.