Expert Tips to Prevent Identity Theft During Tax Season

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Fellowes ShredderDid you know that the tax season not only brings with it a rise in blood pressure and stress but also a rise in identity theft?

It’s true – the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), says that IRS-related identity theft has increased by almost 77 percent during the past two tax seasons and the FTC reported a 3% increase of ID theft complaints in the past year (43% of which were tax or wage related fraud.)

Identity theft and fraud are a huge problem. In February I shared a post on how my own parents were the target of a phone-fraud scheme. While seniors seem to be a big target for fraudsters and scams, anyone can fall victim to identity theft.

“A lot of information changes hands during tax season, which is why we believe we see so many IRS-related identity theft cases this time of year,” said Eva Valasquez, President and CEO of the ITRC. “And although more and more people are now e-filing, we still need to be cautious of how we are protecting information offline.”

The Identity Theft Resource Center recommends taking steps to safeguard your entire tax filing process to ensure you’re protected from the crime. From installing a firewall on your computer, to storing important files in a fireproof lockbox and shredding no-longer-needed documents, it’s important to stop identity thieves in their tracks along the way.

“Shredding is one of the most effective ways to destroy personal information,” said Nancy Heaton, Director of Global Marketing, Business Machines, Fellowes, Inc. Fellowes is a corporate sponsor or ITRC and works closely with the organization to provide education about identity theft crimes. “A Cross-Cut shredder, like Fellowes’ 73Ci ensures your tax-related documents can’t be pieced back together.”

Below are the Identity Theft Resource Center’s identity theft prevention tips for tax season:

- Install a firewall on your computer and change passwords frequently using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols
- Select tax preparation software carefully if you intend to do your own tax return
- File at the earliest time possible allowed by the IRS/CRA
- Send completed tax returns via a U.S. Postal Office. Mailing from home exposes your tax returns to potential risk
- Do not send sensitive documents/information over unprotected e-mail
- Never file your electronic tax return using an unsecured public WiFi connection. A secure site will have its address begin with https:// rather than http://
- Throughout the year, store sensitive tax season documents in a fireproof, locked cabinet
- Shred no-longer-needed tax documents with a Cross-Cut shredder

Using a shredder is important in any household and especially in households like mine where you also have an office and home-based business.  When in doubt whether you should chuck it or shred it – shred it!!!  Even if you think it’s pointless just because it only has a little personal info on it (just your address, or just your purchase order, for example) it’s far easier to shred it than deal with the aftermath of identity theft.

I have been using my new Fellowes 63Cb Powershred Shredder in my home-office and have been happy with it thus far.

Features include:
o Fellowes’ Jam BlockerTM technology blocks jams before they start
o SafeSense® technology automatically stops shredding when hands touch the paper opening
o Energy Savings System maximizes shredder energy savings 100% of the time – both in use and out of use
o Heavy-duty Cross-Cut blades destroy a single sheet of paper into 302 particles, making it nearly impossible to piece back together

302 particles! I love it!  I keep the shredder in my office, which is generally off-limits to the kids, but as we know kids seem to find a way into places they are not supposed to be!  Because of this, the SafeSense technology is really important to me.

In the US you can find the Fellowes 63Cb Powershred Shredder at www.Amazon.com, www.OfficeDepot.com and www.OfficeMax.com for a suggested retail price of $149.99.  In Canada, you can find it at Costco (out of stock) and Future Shop for $129.98 currently.

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One of my readers is going to win a Fellowes 63Cb Powershred Shredder to help keep their identity and personal info safe!  To enter to win, just use the Rafflecopter form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Comments

  1. I already practice , most of the tips above so I don’t think I will do anything different. I try to be very careful when it comes to my identity.

  2. Sabrina T says:

    We usually file as soon as the T4′s come in but we’re behind this year. We hope to get it done soon.

  3. I do most of the above but did recently learn another tip….don’t send cheques in window envelopes….they are being stolen from mail boxes and cashed by people other then the intended receiver

  4. Cindy Bowling says:

    We already do everything listed .

  5. this would come in so handy

  6. Anne Taylor says:

    I’m pretty careful already in every aspect

  7. Mary-Frances C. says:

    The only thing I don’t do on the list is a fire-safe container with tax documents. I should probably do that. lol.

  8. Adrienne Styles says:

    I do not have a fire safe container to keep my tax documents, I think I will need to invest in one.

  9. Suzie M says:

    The only thing i don`t do is the firesafe container, might be a good idea

  10. Florence C says:

    I try my best to keep things safe, only thing is i love to have a shredder because it takes forever to destroy files by hand.

  11. file early

  12. I have a wood stove but this would be great for accumulating sensitive information during the warm months.

  13. Monique L. S. says:

    I know I don’t change my passwords often enough. There are just so many too remember, so it is hard to think of new ones that I’ll remember.

  14. Candace Evanisky says:

    I need to get a fireproof safe

  15. Suzanne Smith says:

    Shredding is fun!

  16. Robyn L says:

    We will have to Select tax preparation software carefully if you intend to do your own tax return

  17. Leanne M says:

    I could use a fireproof safe

  18. the only thing I don’t have s a fireproof safe.

  19. I am really careful about security and used to shred everything until our shredder quit working. Now I have a few bags ready to shred next time they have a community shredding event.

  20. Carrie Butler says:

    I have fire safe container, but I don’t think to put my tax documents in it! So I will definitley do that!

  21. Lorraine says:

    I am pretty vigalent about destroying personal info. My favorite way to dispose of something it contains alot of personal info, after ripping/ shredding or cutting up (cc), is to put it inside a soiled diaper and then in the trash. Sadly those days are drawing to a close but a good idea for anyone else with a little one in disposables.
    **we used cloth for our second**

  22. Stephanie LaPlante says:

    I’m not going to send send sensitive documents/information over unprotected e-mail anymore.

  23. I think we are pretty careful already

  24. Belinda McNabb says:

    I have always been careful but I will be a bit more careful in the future

  25. Yes I’ve been saving my old tax return information but after reading this post I’m going to destroy them.

  26. we do need to procure a fireproof safe for our important documents, but are very careful about how we dispose of and handle sensitive info. you never know!

  27. I will start filing early now.

  28. I no longer do online banking.

  29. I never would have thought to store my tax form in a fireproof locked cabinet but I can see the advantage. I will have to invest in new storage cabinet.

  30. Haylie Langwald says:

    I’m pretty good for following most of those tips, but I need to stop throwing out credit card applications out and start shredding them.

  31. cookie3 says:

    I try to do most of the tips mentioned above.One other thing I started doing is shredding all those junk mails I get requesting me to get a credit card. I started to do this after watching a dumpster diver in Edmonton go through the dumpster and only taking paper. When he finished he got into a car waiting nearby – a fancy Cadillac. That’s when I figured out it must be for identity theft.

  32. learned to shred evrything,even junk mail!

  33. Dayna Wilson says:

    I need to get a lockable container to store my sensitive documents in. I’m pretty good about everything else.

  34. Chandra Christine O'Connor says:

    just bought a shredder mine died and Ive been burning them but now its warmer no fires going so back to shredding.

  35. Doreen Lamoureux says:

    oH YES … I will shred everything… absolutely everything

  36. I always ‘redact’ personal information in credit card applications and the like (by physically cutting the information out!) before recycling the usable paper. Shredding the applications would help ensure that I hadn’t missed anything! Other than that I already observe the other safeguards discussed above, but reminders and updates are welcome.

  37. christel says:

    I do most of these already, but I like the previous comment about shredding the credit card applications.

  38. Doris Calvert says:

    We do everything except the shredder which I think we will have to get

  39. lori butler says:

    indeed, i will be shredding more , wow, crazyness in the world

  40. Anu Chopra says:

    I will look into getting a fire-proof safe now after reading this article.

  41. Use a fireproof safe and I don’t have a shredder so i usually use scissors.

  42. Carole B. says:

    I’ll shred no-longer-needed tax documents instead of keeping them

  43. We already do almost everything listed, but somehow I don’t feel safe regardless. Maybe I’ll need to find the way to do more…

  44. We don’t own a shredder, but we’ve definitely been thinking about it. I think it would be a great idea to own one to shred old receipts, mail, etc.

    We usually just tear everything up and then send it in the recycling bin, so we could definitely do more.

  45. yes definitely! i need a good firewall and definitely start to shred my bills

  46. 409cope says:

    I am already pretty careful but I will start using a shredder.

  47. I definitely need a paper shredder

  48. Laurie Harrison says:

    This id a must have to keep your identity safe

  49. Jennifer L. says:

    I think I should change passwords more often than I do now.

  50. Debbie W says:

    I am more than careful. I protect myself and my family from identity theft.

  51. angela m says:

    store sensitive tax season documents in a fireproof, locked cabinet

  52. yes. I will at least tear up important things i throw away.

  53. Yeah I will shred things with this shredder if I win

  54. Linda A says:

    Yes, I will shred papers.

  55. Darlene says:

    i will shred papers, use a fireproof safe.

  56. Andrew P says:

    Already doing everything on your list

  57. Heidi C. says:

    I am definitely going to shred more often documents with identifying info on them!

  58. I tear up a lot of my important papers now. But I would use the shredder to help with getting rid of paper work that was not needed anymore.

    silverneon2000 at yahoo dot com

  59. Victoria Ess says:

    I might begin to shred my important documents. Currently, I try to rip them up, but I’m not too consistent with that.

  60. valerie godin says:

    I’ve been wanting to shred important documents for a while now but usually end up throwing them in the garbage…bad idea i know

  61. I will definitely be shredding important documents.

  62. With the exception of the shredder and the locked cabinet, I already do most of this already. I would like to add either or both over the next while

  63. Teresa Claire says:

    I am already very careful with what I throw away. I don’t have a locked cabinet either but I would like to have one for the really important stuff that I wouldn’t want to lose.

  64. Jennifer A. says:

    I have always been very careful with personal papers I do most of the things on your list but think it is very helpful for others.

  65. Erika Birrell says:

    This definitely made me think twice about just throwing anything out with our personal info. This would be so awesome to win

  66. Yes I will file tax/important sensitive documents in a fireproof cabinet and send returns via U.S> Post office.

  67. definitely going to get a shredder! But Will hopefully win this one!

  68. Chelsey says:

    I’ll pay attention to the http and https tip! Thanks!

  69. I’m very careful and do most of the stuff listed.

  70. Karla Sceviour says:

    yes I will do as much as I can to protect my identity and shred whatever needs to be shredded!

  71. I will change my passwords more frequently.

  72. I pretty much try to shred everything including groceries receipt
    I will try to remember to change my passwords more often

  73. Carol Denny says:

    I will shred all my papers

  74. holly messana says:

    i was really careful until my shredder broke, then i thought that it couldn’t be such a big deal. but i will get a shredder and start again, it is too scary to think that your info can be obtained

  75. Angela Mitchell says:

    I actually have a shredder at home but I need to remember to use it more often.

  76. I already use most of the tips mentioned except for storing documents in a fire-safe cabinet. I will have to look into getting one.

  77. Melanie Duxbury says:

    Already doing most of these things. would be nice to have a shredder, rather then ripping up papers.

  78. Deb Dorrington says:

    We already do these things but I tear up as I don’t have a shredder, we have been thinking of buying one so I hope I win.

  79. Yes, I’m going to get a fireproof safe.

  80. Elaine Bolduc says:

    yes of course, i do not have a paper shredder now, but if i dont win this one i will go buy one. thanks for the tip

  81. Elaine Bolduc says:

    i had been reading about a scam that was going on about someone phoning and saying our computers had a virus and they needed to get into them to check for this so called virus. and if we allowed them this info they would be able to take so much from our computer. well one day someone called me and told me i had a virus on my pc. so i played dumb and said i had to call them back right away cause my computer was in another room. i was trying to have a number to contact the police. they gave me a number and said to call back right away. i laughed to my self and said suckers got you now. so i tried calling back before i called the police but when i called the number they gave me it said THERE IS NO SERVICE FOR THE NUMBER YOU HAVE DIALED. wow am i ever glad i did not fall for this scam. if someone calls you dont believe it.

  82. Right on. I will even took out the address on my mail before took them out for recycle.

  83. Fireproof safe is the only way to go from here on

  84. Adriana F says:

    I usually tear up papers with personal info but I think a shredder will be better

  85. shirley-ann says:

    I try to be diligent but haven’t been lately. This is a great reminder /wake-up to renew and update my habits. Having this shredder would really help with this.

  86. Buy a fireproof cabinet.

  87. Ted Kooper says:

    I will shred all my letters

  88. nannypanpan says:

    i will no longer send tax forms from my home mail
    nannypanpan@gmail.com

  89. One thing I know we should do more often is change our passwords. We have had our emails and Facebooks hacked , so we know the sending of tax documents could be as well. Did not even think of going directly to a post office to send out… we always would but we have had Amazing gift cards taken right out of the envelope en route TO our house, ordered for gift giving, so there is a chance anyone could just scope the mail and take tax documents too. Geesh…think about how MUCH info is in that!

  90. I will be shredding papers.

  91. We have a woodstove so it’s nice to be able to burn things.

  92. If I win, I will start shredding all my important documents

  93. I always shred documents and anything with address of personal information includiing expired credit cards so no necessarily, but maybe be more careful to make sure it gets done. Good shredder defiinitely helps

  94. Danielle Carlson says:

    I shred most of my documents with account info on them, but I didn’t realize the address was such a big deal. Guess I will be shredding more papers!

  95. charmaine tavares says:

    Ill be shredding papers that contain personal info

  96. Jaclyn Boyd says:

    I try my best to follow these tips but I admit I get a little lazy. This would

  97. I already do everything mentioned in the post, except shred my documents. This shredder would come in handy!

  98. Use a cross cut shredder instead of my old one!

  99. I’m going to change my passwords more often

  100. sandra mitchell says:

    I will use a shredder and then use the shredded paper as compost on my flower beds

  101. Yes, I will shred papers.

  102. Get a new shredder to shred our documents.

  103. Lori Bazan says:

    I will start shredding…I have been lazy about this!

  104. I’ll shred all my papers

  105. Leanne B says:

    I will change passowrds more frequently. I am bad for never switching and using the same ones

  106. I need to re-start shredding as well as using the fire-proof safe

  107. Laurie P says:

    shred, shred, shred :)

  108. Laird N Crystal E says:

    I will definately start shredding all my documents! I was just recently the vicitim of credit card fraud and it hurt me a lot with putting my business’ (all 4 of them) on hold till everything was settled! Scary! Luckily I caught it right away thou.

  109. Clifford says:

    I definitely will file my tax documents in a secure locked cabinet, something I had never thought to do..usually I just put them in a folder and put them in a box.

  110. sarah sar says:

    yes i will! I did not realise how important this was and ppl do tend to be more vulnerable during tax season.

  111. shred papers into extremely small pieces

  112. lisa bolduc says:

    i will make sure that the site says https when i send in my tax returns

  113. natasha severson says:

    will always shread all the important papters!!!

  114. only taking them to the post office to be mailed

  115. I will install a fire wall and change passwords more …thanks for the chance

  116. Laura Jacobson says:

    Yes, I need so cross shred ! My current shredder is an old one…and just does one way!

  117. sherry k says:

    I will shred some things – I don’t right now.

  118. Stephen k says:

    I think I will finally start shredding

  119. Eva Mitton-Urban says:

    Knowledge is empowerment – great to adhere and follow these tips. I don’t think that I will actually do much different – I shred now and I don’t share personal information – favorite feature is Call Block right now ! My son says “Mom you are too cautious” – in this day and age – we have to be. Hope he can benefit from this life lesson !

  120. I do pretty well all those things now but don’t have my tax papers in a locked case. I will have to do that and hopefully will win this new shredder so I can shred my papers. Right now I cut them up in pretty small pieces. I also put cut up papers in different bags for garbage, I never put them all in the same place.

  121. Sharon Cosby says:

    I don’t know why i got rid of my shredder. Now I need another to protect my info!

  122. laurie nykaza says:

    I knew about the http and the need to shred everything that has info on it

  123. Jeanne Bates Tennant says:

    Shred, shred, shred, and shred some more.
    :)

  124. Lenora D says:

    I would definitely feel better if I was shredding papers.

  125. R. Chestnut says:

    I literally have three boxes of papers that needs to be shredded as I am absolutely crazy about getting rid of my personal information safely. My shredder broke (probably overworked it) and I could really use this. Awesome quality shredder!

  126. start shredding

  127. Tania Smith says:

    Yes! I am going to change my passwords more often and shred sensitive information.

  128. SueSueper says:

    I need to get myself a fireproof safe!! That’s the required change here.

  129. Blessie Nelson says:

    !. Get creative with passwords and change regularly
    2. Don’t procastinate. File taxes early
    3. Win this shredder to shred all the junk mails and personal documents

  130. Jeanette Jackson says:

    I will be changing my passwords at least once a week now.

  131. Yes! I’ll mail my tax returns AT the Postal Office – so much safer when I think about it. Thanks for all the tips!

  132. I need to start changing my passwords more often!

  133. I will shred all paperwork and change passwords more often!

  134. Theresa Michalik says:

    I will start shredding my important and private papers, will take to my mom’s until I with this.

  135. make sure if I send any sensitive info over the internet that the url starts with https.

  136. Daniel M says:

    Shred no-longer-needed tax documents with a Cross-Cut shredder – I have been doing this but how long do you keep them, 7 years?

  137. marissa maestas says:

    I have never shredded my papers, it is such a good tip

  138. I’m going to shred all my papers instead of sometimes ripping them up by hand.

  139. I could put this next to the counter for all the bills & mail once I’ve scanned them.

  140. Christy Martin says:

    Scary! I would definitely look into getting a good shredder. I’ve been way too lazy with mail, bills etc. I guess I always figure there is someone else, with a bigger house, whose recycling bin would be more financially interesting!

  141. Tara Crawford says:

    i will be shredding more and changing passwords

  142. wendy rozema says:

    yes, i will shred all my papers!

  143. There’ll be a shredding party at my house!

  144. Shredding more is a great idea…one i need to start!

  145. Undomesticgirl says:

    Sure will! I have always been meaning to but my laziness won…

  146. Angelene Ashawasega says:

    Interesting…I guess I best head to the post office when mailing. BUT I also need a shredder because right now i am using scissors to cut…lol!

  147. Sarah VM says:

    We have to start shredding. We are not good about disposing of our private information.

  148. josee carpentier says:

    Shred all important paper with personnal info

  149. Beth Gallinger says:

    I’m definitely going to carefully select tax preparation software.

  150. We need to shred more

  151. Lily Kwan says:

    I don’t think I would do anything different.

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