Tips to protect your tax return from fraud - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Tips to protect your tax return from fraud

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On Tuesday, we told you how 12 On Your Side helped get Danielle DiMaggio her refund after it was stolen two years in a row while her account activity was being monitored by the Internal Revenue Service.

On its own web site, the IRS says more needs to be done, and that's true. There are things you can do to minimize your chances of becoming a victim. Something as simple as not carrying your Social Security card with you can help.

The IRS is expanding its efforts to better protect taxpayers and help victims. Those upgrades didn't stop the thief who got DiMaggio's refund two years in a row. After 12 On Your Side got involved, DiMaggio got the $3900 she was owed for her 2013 return. The IRS is still working on her 2012 return.

Refund fraud detection and prevention are a priority, according to the IRS. Three thousand employees work cases like DiMaggio's, and aggressive efforts stopped 14 million suspicious returns, protecting $50 billion in fraudulent refunds.

To reduce your risk, if you file by mail, take your return to the post office. Don't leave it in the mailbox at your home. Electronic filers, be sure to use a secure computer network instead of public WiFi at a business or coffee shop. Also, file early, as soon as you receive all your documents. Get your return in before a counterfeiter can.

Refund thieves rarely give up. If they stole from you once, they'll do it again. Get a verification PIN from the IRS to file future returns. That's a six-digit number given annually  to identity theft victims.

Do not respond to e-mails or text messages asking for personal information. The IRS doesn't do business that way. The initial contact from the agency will always be a letter sent through regular mail. 

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