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Preventing identity theft during tax season

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With tax season approaching, Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch reminds citizens to take steps to ensure that tax filings and return checks are secure and not subject to potential identity theft.

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Identity theft continues to be a major problem, with tax related identify theft becoming very common. It was reported in 2013 that 43 percent of identity theft complaints the Federal Trade Commission investigated were related to tax returns.

The IRS reports that one simple way to prevent a potential identify theft is to file early. The scammers usually don’t have access to W-2 forms, so they just make up income numbers and hope their phony return gets through the process.

If the scammer is successful, your legitimate return will be kicked out and the refund denied because the IRS computers will show that you were already paid.

The following tips should be followed while filing returns and accepting return checks to ensure identify safety and protection.

• Do not respond to an unexpected email or text message that claims to be from the IRS. The IRS does not do business that way. Their initial contact is always by mail.

• Protect yourself: You can’t prevent tax-related identity theft — we’re all vulnerable — but there are things you can do that will reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

• If you file by mail, do it at a post office, not from an unlocked mailbox in front of your house.

• If you file electronically, use a secure computer on a secure network, not a wifi hot-spot network.

• Get your return done as soon as you can. It really is in your best interest to file as early as possible.

• Monitor your accounts and credit reports frequently.

As always if you feel that you have been a subject or victim of a potential scam or if you need help deciphering message or mailing, contact the sheriff’s office for assistance.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889
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