Like Ben Franklin once said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Whether you like them or not, paying and filing taxes is a requirement for living in the good ol' U.S.A. Not an enjoyable experience by any stretch, but one that could be even less enjoyable if a scammer gets ahold of your personal information, and files them pretending to be you.

Scammers are always looking for ways to take your money from you by pretending to be someone they're not, hoping they're convincing enough to get you to give up the info you need to rob you blind. Knowing that thousands of people across the country will get some sort of refund from the government, tax season is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for these con artists.

If they somehow manage to get their hands on your social security number, they'll be able to get all the info they need to file your taxes as you and take that refund you worked so hard to get.

 

So, how do you protect yourself? That is, after all, why you're here, right? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers the following five tips:

  • Protect your SSN throughout the year. Don’t give it out unless there’s a good reason and you’re sure who you’re giving it to.

  • File your tax return as early in the tax season as you can.

  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.

  • Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.

  • Check your credit report at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com. Make sure no one has opened a new account in your name.

The FTC is also offering free webinars all this week during their annual "Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week" to help you learn more about protecting yourself from thieves, and how to identify potential scams. You can sign up for any of the webinars through the FTC website.

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{Source: Federal Trade Commission]