(WHAS11) -- Tax returns include some of a consumer's most sensitive financial information and with tax season getting started, it can be a prime time for identity theft.
Whether you are filing returns online or through the mail, it is worth a few reminders to keep personal information safe.
First, don't carry documents with your social security number or individual taxpayer identification number on them and never give that information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you initiated the conversation. Make sure the computer you are using has updated anti-spam and virus software and security patches. Avoid working on your taxes over a public Wi-Fi connection, like an a cafe or an airport.
Here are some red flags for consumers:
- If you have more than one tax return filed in your name
- A balance is due for a year you didn't file a tax return
- IRS records pointing to more wages than you actually earned in a year means someone else is using your name
- If you have state or federal benefits canceled because of an income change reported to an agency, call the IRS.
If you receive a tax notice and think it is because of identity theft, get in touch with the IRS. In the past year, the agency has doubled the number of their employees who work on identity theft cases.
If you have a consumer issue you would like us to look into, send us an email at ConsumerWatch@WHAS11.com