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SLPD Offers Tips to Avoid Identity Fraud, Tax Return Theft

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – According to the Sugar Land Police Department, last year more than 113,000 Texans had their identity stolen.

“One of the ways crooks can do this is by filing your taxes for you,” officials said.  “That's right, criminals can file taxes in your name and have the tax return sent to them.”

Officials say one way to prevent this from happening is to file as soon as possible, so crooks don't have enough time to get it filed before you.

Here are some other tips from SLPD to keep your identity safe:

1. Leave your Social Security card at home

Tax-return identity theft almost always involves a stolen Social Security number (SSN). Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place, don’t carry any document that has your SSN on it, and don't give it out to anyone or send it through text or email.

2. Create strong passwords

Start by choosing a strong, unique password for each financial site you use. Don't have your computer automatically save passwords, especially on work computers, and change passwords regularly.

3. Protect against computer spam and viruses

Take advantage of the security software updates your operating system offers and make it a habit to use a firewall and anti-virus software.

4. Beware of phishing

Phishing is a term for online scams that use official-looking emails that seem to come from the IRS or your bank but are from thieves seeking your personal information. The IRS never requests financial or personal information in email communications, and neither do legitimate companies. In addition, the IRS won't call you to tell you that you owe taxes. They will send you a letter.

5. Shred bank and tax documents

6. Keep on top of data breaches

Not every type of stolen personal information will result in tax-related identity theft, but there are things you can do to help prevent becoming another victim including:

  • Find out what type of data was taken, if you receive notice of a data breach or computer hack.

  • Stay in close contact with the affected company and find out what it's doing to protect you.

  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a "fraud alert" on your credit record.

  • Fill out and send IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.



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