You either love it or you hate it. What are we talking about? TAX SEASON!

That’s right, we are almost through the 1st quarter of 2017, and the deadline is rapidly approaching. More than 70 million taxpayers are expecting refunds this year, that is a lot of refunds being anticipated. However, that also means that there are some people who would take advantage of the opportunity to steal your refund. Did you know that tax season is one of the most common times for identity theft to occur? Sadly, it is true that there are a variety of scams out there and we must do everything we can to protect our finances and our identity.

1.    Be proactive. Filing early reduces the risk of someone filing in your name. A delay in filing gives tax scammers the opportunity to file ahead of the real taxpayer and steal the refund.

2.    Use strong passwords. We cannot stress enough how important it is to use passwords that are complicated and not easily guessed.

3.    USE STRONGER PASSWORDS (see #2).

4.    Stay updated. You can visit https://www.irs.gov/ for updated information on scams and cyber-attacks.

5.    Check your identity often. Getting a copy of credit reports can be your biggest help. Checking regularly for inaccuracies in loans and lines of credit will let you know if your identity has been compromised.

If you believe your identity has been stolen you should contact your financial institution, your HR department, your insurance provider, the IRS, and the credit reporting agencies right away. The sooner you act the better. You have options that will help mitigate the damage.
Freezing your credit and credit monitoring programs are helpful tools in preventing fraud and identity theft. One of the best tools you have in battling this growing issue, is yourself. Be aware and be alert.

You can request a free credit report from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies for free. If you spread that out, you can check your entire credit history 3 times year for free. Below is the link to the form:

https://www.annualcreditreport.com/manualRequestForm.action