Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

March 18, 2014

Keep yourself safe from identity theft


The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Hoosiers are looking forward to receiving their tax refunds, but so are identity theft criminals, according to a Nixle message from the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office.

The Indiana Department of Revenue implemented increased security features this year to protect Hoosiers against identity theft and tax fraud. Within just the first month of tax season, the department has stopped more than $1.2 million in attempted tax fraud.

Identity theft is such a big problem during tax season because it’s when people gather all of their sensitive information into one place, making it easy for criminals to steal information and tax refunds.

Some ways criminals can find personal information are:

• From their friends or acquaintances;

• By posing through a phone call or an e-mail as someone who needs information;

• By looking through trash for personal information; or

• By accessing information provided to an unsecured Internet site or via a public Wi-Fi service;

To avoid giving personal information to identity theft criminals, follow the Indiana Department of Revenue’s four identity protection tips:

• Don’t share your Social Security number unless you have to, and never give it to a person when you did not make the initial contact;

• Don’t leave your W-2s lying around. This gives visitors going in and out of your home access to them. Instead, keep your tax documents in a safe, locked box;

• After you electronically file your tax return, save the file to a CD, USB drive or external drive and then delete the return from your computer. Store the device in a safe, locked place. This ensures hackers can’t steal your information; and

• File your taxes electronically. It is significantly more secure than paper filing. Individual taxpayers may qualify to file their taxes online for free at www.freefile.dor.in.gov.

Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills concluded, “Citizens need to be reminded that scams are everywhere. Be very careful with your private information. Do not give anything out over the phone or to just anyone who shows up at your doorstep. Do some investigating and ask some questions to verify and make sure it is safe to give out that personal information. Don’t throw away your hard earned money.”

For more information about identity protection, persons can visit www.in.gov/dor/4794.htm.