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How to File a Secure Tax Return

Common sense rules for protecting your identity and finances

En español | For scammers, tax time is especially rife with opportunities to steal your identity. But you can hinder fraud attempts by following tips for safer filing:

See also: Should you give out your ZIP code?

  • Don't use public wireless networks to prepare and file taxes. If you receive email that claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service or state or local tax collectors, don't reply, open attachments or click on links.
  • Be sure to mail tax returns from a blue U.S. Postal Service drop box or post office, or hand them directly to your postal carrier. Don't fax financial information to your tax preparer — your information could end up lying around the fax machine for prying eyes to see. Instead, mail sensitive documents or scan them, protect the file with security measures such as a password, then email it.
  • Don't provide any personal information — especially Social Security numbers — to phone callers. Authenticate received letters by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 (or 1-800-829-4059 if hearing-impaired).

Sid Kirchheimer writes about health and consumer issues.

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