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Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 6:45pm
EL PASO — Tax returns include some of your most sensitive financial information, and with tax season getting started, it can be a prime time for identity theft.
Tax season is underway. Where do you start?
An accountant at White, Samaniego and Campbell suggests first getting organized.
"Well first, I would say they have to gather all their documents, they have to gather their W2s, their 1099s… if they incurred some medical expenses gather up all the receipts," said Cynthia Morales said.
Then, the Better Business Bureau said do your homework to pick a tax service or accountant to prepare your return.
"It would definitely be in their best interest to right off the bat ask for their credentials. Don't be afraid to do that. You don't want to scammed or be a victim of identity theft," said Margo Monreal.
The BBB said you can find a list of accredited businesses on their website and you can always ask for referrals.
"Another way is to ask around if somebody's had a good experience who you know; you're likely to have a good experience as well with those people," said Monreal.
And whether you're filing your returns online or through the mail, it's worth a few reminders to keep personal information safe and away from identity thieves.
- Don't carry documents with your social security number or individual taxpayer identification number.
- or give that information over the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you initiated the conversation.
- Make sure the computer you're using has updated anti-spam and virus software and security patches.
And no matter how busy you are, avoid working on your taxes over a public Wi-Fi connection, like in a cafe or airport.
The following should raise red flags for a consumer.
- More than one tax return filed in your name,
- A balance due for a year you didn't file a tax return,
- IRS records pointing to more wages than you actually earned in a year,
- or state or federal benefits cancelled because of an income change reported to an agency.
If you receive a tax notice and think it's because of identity theft, get in touch with the IRS. The agency says they've doubled the number of their employees working on identity theft cases in the last year.
If you receive a tax notice and think it's because of identity theft, get in touch with the IRS. The agency said they've doubled the number of their employees working on identity theft cases in the last year.
The deadline to file your taxes is April 15.
Here are links to helpful resources:
• Link to e-file tax returns for free: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free
• Forms that are not available right now http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/List-of-IRS-forms-that-1040-filers-can-begin-filing-in-late-February-or-into-March-2013
• IRS phone numbers http://www.irs.gov/uac/Telephone-Assistance
• Check refund status https://sa1.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp