Lock Down Your Identity this Tax Season

There are simple ways to protect yourself.

doors locked with a padlock and chains

It's important to take some steps to make sure your information doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Tax season involves piles of paperwork, lots of receipts, and plenty of opportunities for identity thieves. The Identity Theft Resource Center recommends the following precautions:

  1. Block

    Millions of people now file their taxes online. Make sure your computer is protected by a firewall. There are good ones that are free to use.

  2. Confirm

    Beware of phony phone calls and emails pretending to be from the IRS. The IRS does not solicit personal or financial information by email. You should never give out this information unless you have initiated the contact. Always be sure who you are dealing with. If you're not sure, call an official IRS phone number to check.

  3. Mail

    Do not leave tax returns or other sensitive information in your out-going mail. Take them directly to the post office and drop them off inside.

  4. Screen

    Be careful about who you use to prepare your taxes. Check out companies with the Better Business Bureau. Ask them about their policies for security, information storage, and background checks.

  5. Secure

    Be careful about where you store old receipts and tax returns. Make sure that it is in a safe place with limited access. Even if your paperwork is several years old, an identity thief can still use it.

  6. Shorten

    If you are paying by check, only write the last 4 digits of your Social Security number on it.

  7. Shred

    If there are documents you no longer need, don't just tear them up and throw them away. Use a good cross-cut shredder instead.

For more information on security during tax season, visit the NCUA's site, mycreditunion.gov