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Our friends at Afinety have shared some useful tips about protecting your financial and tax information during this upcoming tax season. Tax season is rife with scams and scare tactics engineered to frighten tax payers into paying fees for fictional debts. Identity thieves use this time of year to line their pockets at the expense of your data.

The IRS has teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make sure you understand the dangers to your personal and financial data. Here are seven steps you can make part of your routine to protect your tax and financial information:

  1. Read your credit card and banking statements carefully and often – watch for even the smallest charge that appears suspicious. (Neither your credit card nor bank – or the IRS – will send you emails asking for sensitive personal and financial information such as asking you to update your account.)
  2. Review and respond to all notices and correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service. Warning signs of tax-related identity theft can include IRS notices about tax returns you did not file, income you did not receive or employers you’ve never heard of or where you’ve never worked.
  3. Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get your free reports.
  4. Review your annual Social Security income statement for excessive income reported. You can sign up for an electronic account at www.SSA.gov.
  5. Read your health insurance statements; look for claims you never filed or care you never received.
  6. Shred any documents with personal and financial information. Never toss documents with your personally identifiable information, especially your social security number, in the trash.
  7. If you receive any routine federal deposit such as Social Security Administrator or Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, you probably receive those deposits electronically. You can use the same direct deposit process for your federal and state tax refund. IRS direct deposit is safe and secure and places your tax refund directly into the financial account of your choice.
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