Avoiding identity theft this tax season

MADISON (WKOW) — Scammers will try to get your tax refund this year or steal your identity, but there are things you can do to prevent it.

Mark Farnan with Retirement Income Planning says tax filers should be especially on the lookout this year. "Remember the big Equifax data breach last year? Hackers stole the personal information of up to 143 million people and that includes social security numbers.

Farnan says scammers could use those social security numbers to file fraudulent returns. 

He advises you to file your tax return soon. If you file before the thieves do, the IRS will already have the correct one. Farnan also says do it in a secure way. When e-filing, make sure you have a security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. "Treat your tax documents and any documents with your personal information like cash, and don’t leave them lying around in the open."

Farnan also suggests adjusting your withholding. "By adjusting your withholding, you can reduce the size of your refund and get more money in your paycheck year-round. I recommend my clients adjust their withholding so their refund is as close to 0 as possible."

If you think you’re the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS as soon as possible. Document everything and consider filing an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. "You may also want to file a report with the local police, as well as contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus."

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