Needless to say Christmas is over, but for some it might feel like it's still here, however in a different way. Instead of giving, some people use this time of year to steal the identities of others. For identity thieves the tax season is a prime time. Although what they steal equals a great deal, what they get cost victims even more in time and money.
John O'Hara is the Chief Executive Officer for the Better Business Bureau in Mississippi, when it comes to taxes and taking precautions, he says the same guidelines apply across the country.
"Be careful of who's handling your tax information, your W2's, and your returns."
According to O'Hara, it's important to limit the number of people who have access to your personal information, such as your social security number on your W2 form.
"If you get information that you may not need for your tax return just don't throw it in the trash," says O'Hara. "Make sure that it is shredded. Make sure that you put it up, and make sure that you just don't hand it over to somebody."
When it comes to filing taxes, O'Hara says the location where you file is very important.
"We tell people to file early. File electronically. Make sure that it's a secure site. Don't do it at one of these kind of public access websites for tax preparers. Last year I can remember going into some coffee shops and seeing people filing their taxes. Hopefully, they weren't electronically submitting that because people understand that, people who shop on-line. Identity thieves know that people are using public access areas that aren't secure, and they can steal your identity."
Also, he says it's important for people to make sure that the person preparing their taxes signs the form.
"If they fill out your taxes, they're supposed to sign the form as well so they have some skin in the game, and not just yourself."
The Better Business Bureau is advising people to make sure that the person who prepares his or her taxes is registered to do so. This information can be checked with the Better Business Bureau or IRS. Also, agency officials advise residents to negotiate the price before having their taxes filed.