Tax season is a hectic time for most people. All of the forms, receipts, statements, and other documents necessary to file your return are passed around by employers, family members, accountants, and more. Unfortunately, this shuffling of personal information can also be a draw for more unfriendly eyes.
Instances of identity theft are at a yearly high around tax season, with thousands of opportunists taking advantage of the surplus of sensitive financial records being sent back and forth. While you prepare for another year of tax payments—or hopefully refunds—here are 3 important documents to always keep an eye on:
The W-2 is obviously important to everyone who earns an income in the United States—and therefore not likely to get tossed in the trash—but what you might not realize is how many electronic copies of this form exist on the web. Filing your taxes online, sending a scanned copy as an attachment to your accountant, or even discussing parts of your W-2 in an email to a family member are all ways you inadvertently make a digital copy of this document that may be vulnerable to a motivated criminal.
The combination of your name, legal address, Social Security number, employer, and other sensitive information makes your W-2 form a very attractive target for identity thieves, so while you carefully file your print copy in your home filing cabinet, make sure you know how many electronic versions have been created, and where they’ve been sent.
Receipts And Invoices Used For Tax Write-Offs
If you run a small business or work in a job where you have a lot of expenses, tax season is the time when you dig out a year’s worth of receipts and get them ready for a potential audit. This may include scanning and uploading them to a potentially unsafe online account, or even losing a folder or shoebox of them on your way to your accountant’s office. Most receipts won’t have enough personal info on them to be a genuine threat to you, but a few of them—such as receipts from a hotel or a charity—may have your name and address, which is a pretty sensitive combination these days.
Your full name and legal address gives a possible identity thief a baseline needed to begin sniffing around your presence on the Internet, such as your various social media accounts, business press releases, birth announcements, and other news article published online. This can give an attacker important personal information that is commonly used by banks and other financial accounts to verify your identity, such as your city of birth, mother’s maiden name, sports you played in high school, and much more. So remember to keep any receipt with your name and address on it under careful guard.
The 1099 miscellaneous income form can come from a wide variety of people and institutions, some of which you may be unaware are sending you one in the first place. Independently contracted clients, banks in which you have a savings account that is earning interest, stock portfolios that pay yearly dividends, federal unemployment payouts, and dozens of other sources may be sending you a 1099 form this year, which has the same personal info as a W-2. If you’re someone who gets a lot of correspondence, it can be easy to accidentally throw one of these 1099s out with the junk mail, giving an enterprising thief a chance at a form that has all of your vital information listed on it.
With a little planning and attention, you can keep all of your important tax season records away from any prying eyes that mean to do you harm. If you’re interested in a more thorough option, you can always acquire protection against identity theft. As an Identity Theft Services provider, we at Protect Your Bubble can help protect you against all the possible mishaps that can result from your financial life falling into the wrong hands, giving you a powerful partner in keeping your identity secure. Reach out to us at 1-866-367-7579 if we can answer any questions for you.
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