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Protect Yourself From Identity Theft This Tax Season

With tax season upon us your personal information is floating around everywhere and identity thieves are working overtime to steal it. From social security numbers to employer and income information, it's an identity theft nightmare waiting to happen. Unless, of course, you're a thief. Then it's identity theft paradise.

Don't think it can happen to you? According to Javelin Strategy and Research, 8.4 million U.S. adults were victims of identity fraud in 2007.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe this tax season:

  • Choose your tax preparer carefully. Ask for referrals from friends and coworkers.
  • Beware of unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS. Such emails often contain links that automatically download software designed to steal your passwords and account information.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Don’t give out your Social Security number if it’s not necessary.
  • Guard your mailbox. Your mailbox is a treasure chest for crooks this time of year. If someone gets a hold of your tax forms they'll know your social security number, your employer and how much money you made last year. If you don't yet have a locking mailbox, now would be the perfect time to get one.
  • Watch the websites you visit. If you use online tax services, just be sure you are dealing with a legitimate site. Clone websites can be easily set up by scammers with the sole purpose of harvesting your personal information.
  • Tax season is ripe for identity theft, but you don't have to be a victim. By keeping the above tips in mind, you can get through tax season without putting yourself at an increased risk of identity theft.