Major department stores like Target and Neiman Marcus have been involved in big security breaches over the past few months, and identity theft is a growing problem across the country. But many people actually find out they're victims of identity theft through filing their taxes.
"When they come in to see me, they have a problem with their return. It's rejected by the IRS because someone has already used their social security number," Samantha Slapnik at Liberty Tax in Carolina Forest said.
In 2013, 43% of all identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission came after tax filing season. That number jumped from 15% in 2010.
Slapnik said it's fairly easy to know if your information has been compromised.
"If your return is rejected, that's one. If you know you haven't filed your return anywhere else or even tried to anywhere else, either online or with a tax preparer. Always check your credit, credit cards and other things like that because there may be bills or other things like that on your name that you're not responsible for," Slapnik said.
If you choose to file taxes online, it may be harder to find out that you're identity has been stolen since very few questions are asked. Filing in-person can be more secure.
"With every client that comes in, we require a picture ID. We won't do a return without a picture ID because you can be anyone. There are people out there who know how to scam and how to answer the right questions, so we have to be very very careful with that information because you can go and do anything with it," Slapnik said.
Her biggest piece of advice to prevent becoming a victim is to file early, giving people who might steal your identity less of a window of opportunity to do so.
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