As has been widely documented, Florida has really taken the prize as the leading state for income tax fraud, mostly related to thieves or gangs who start with identity theft to file fake returns for hundreds or thousands of people. And if Florida is tax fraud nation, then Tampa is the capital city, with dozens of high profile cases this year, plus a couple of new ones this week.
Here are 5 tips to prevent ID theft during the 2013 tax season:
1. Run the other way if a tax preparer asks you to sign a blank return. Never sign a blank tax return.
2. Skip using the Wi-Fi at a coffee spot, hotel or fast food location to file tax returns online.
3. The IRS warns that your identity may have been stolen if the IRS notifies you that someone has already filed a return using your information. Another bad sign: If the IRS notifies you that you were paid wages from an employer where you did not work.
4. Some tax apps require users to take a photo of a W-2 form, but you want to make absolutely sure to delete that image afterward, according to the Experian ProtectMyID’s list of tips for tax time.
5. If you think you may be at risk for identity theft because of a stolen wallet or questionable credit activity, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized unit at 800-908-4490. A taxpayer guide to ID theft is on the IRS website, IRS.gov.