March 16, 2020
Tax time is upon us and unfortunately that also means it’s open season for fraudsters looking to scam taxpayers. With tax scams on the rise, it’s time for U.S. taxpayers to get more serious about protecting their personal information. We’ve rounded up the answers to five frequently asked questions to help keep your confidential data safe this tax season.
You need to be extremely cautious when receiving a call, email or text message from someone claiming to be from either the IRS or CRA. Fraudsters often impersonate tax agents and threaten taxpayers with fines, arrest or even deportation if they fail to pay a (fake) tax bill over the phone. If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately and call the CRA or IRS directly yourself.
Filing taxes early may reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft-related tax fraud. The IRS only allows one tax return per social security number per year, so when you file first, an identity thief who has stolen your information can't file and claim the tax refund because you had already beaten them to it.
Almost 50% of taxpayers do not know how long they are supposed to keep tax documents. In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recommends keeping records for three years or longer if you meet certain conditions.
Other paper documents, including outdated tax forms, credit card statements, utility bills and other personal information that originates online should be properly destroyed. It’s also important that scraps of paper or notes that contain account information, passwords, names or other personal information be properly destroyed.
Important tax files stored in an unlocked drawer or even left on your desk have a way of falling into the wrong hands. Protect yourself by using lockable storage units and adopting a Clean Desk Policy at home and in the office. All tax information stored on hard drives should be safeguarded with a strong password. If you print tax documents at work, don’t forget to quickly grab them from the printer too.
Tax season is stressful enough without worrying about fraudsters. Take action this tax season and prevent your tax return and confidential information from flying out the window.
Looking for more advice? Take a step towards even stronger protection by contacting us for a free quote or to learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents as well.