To paraphrase John Donne, ask not for whom the tax man cometh; he comes for thee.
Yes my dears, it’s nearly tax time again, and that means identity theft season is rapidly approaching. Every year there’s a spike in the number of reported identity thefts traced to stolen mail, online tax filing security holes, lax computer security and easy access to the financial information left strewn around on desks and dining room tables all across America.
We can’t minimize the pain of tax season, but we have tips to keep the pain from compounding.
Safeguarding your mail is the most important step you can take to protect yourself from identity theft during tax season. Millions of W-2 forms are going to be mailed out by the January 31 deadline. If you don’t have a locking mailbox, your W-2 can be easily stolen by an identity thief who will then have your name, Social Security number, address, employment and salary information. In short, he’ll have everything necessary to steal your identity, take out tax refund advances and open new credit accounts.
Even if you escape this first threat, later this spring when your tax return arrives, identity thieves will be able to snatch up your tax return and cash it.
It’s imperative that you either swap out your old mailbox for a new locking model, or do away with your home mailbox altogether and use a post office box instead. This latter option is the most secure for incoming and outgoing mail.
Over the next few days I’ll give you some more tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft. Tax season is painful enough.