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Tips for filing income taxes safely and avoiding ID theft

These tips to help people file their taxes safely and avoid identity theft are from Scambook, an Internet complaint resolution site.

Know who's helping: Work with someone familiar and, more important, trustworthy. (The Internal Revenue Service requires anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation to have a valid 2013 preparer tax identification number.)

Mail taxes personally: Don't put taxes in others' hands.

Use secure WiFi to e-file: If filing through TurboTax or another online program, be sure to send personal information through a secure password-protected wireless Internet connection. Public WiFi should not be used.

Save to CD or flash drive, then delete computer files: If e-filing, use a strong password to protect the data file. Save the file to a CD or flash drive and then delete the personal return information from the hard drive. Store the CD or flash drive in a safe place, such as a lockbox or safe.

Watch out for IRS email scams: A huge red flag is an "IRS email" because the IRS does not contact the public electronically to request information.

Shred hard documents once unnecessary: Don't discard old documents without shredding.

Check mail ASAP: If expecting a refund or other information after taxes are filed, make sure to check the mail every day. Don't leave it sitting in the mailbox.

If you suspect you're a victim of identity theft, take action right away: Get IRS Form 14039 and send it in immediately. An Initial Fraud Alert with one of the big three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) should also be filed, and an Identity Theft Report on www.ftc.gov should be created.

Tips for filing income taxes safely and avoiding ID theft 04/14/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 14, 2013 5:50pm]
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