Prevent Identity Theft at Tax Season
Identity theft is a serious problem. The Federal Trade Commission says identity theft is its top complaint. Here are tips on preventing identity theft from Mr. "Catch Me If You Can" himself, Frank W. Abagnale:
1. For the IRS’ eyes only: When mailing your taxes, make sure personal documents and enclosed check (if included) are not visible from the outside. Wrap the check in a sheet of paper to disguise it.
2. Secured mailboxes: Always put outgoing tax mail in a secured mailbox, preferably at the post office. Don't put out the mailbox flag - that alerts potential thieves. Avoid putting mail out at night, when pick up is not until the next day.
3. Numbered account: Never give out your Social Security number without clarification. Don't print your number on your checks; it is not required.
4. Choose your preparer wisely: Trust but verify, as a former president once said. Do some background research before committing to your tax professional.
5. Write the check to the Internal Revenue Service, not the Mrs.: When writing a check to the IRS, spell out the words Internal Revenue Service. A check that says IRS can easily be altered to be to MRS. Smith or Jones.