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Filing taxes online can increase chance of identity theft

No matter if you are one of our Pennsylvania readers or reside elsewhere in the United States, it does not change the fact that you may e-file your tax return this year. While the convenience of doing so is a huge benefit, it can lead to an increased chance of identity theft.

Every year, approximately 1,000 people could become victims of identity theft when filing their tax return. In 2013, alone, the U.S. Justice Department charged almost 900 people for claiming false refunds. Along with this, the number of identity theft investigations by the IRS increased by 66 percent in 2013 over 2012.

While this is a big deterrent for some, it is important to note that there are steps that can be taken to cut back on the chance of becoming a victim of identity theft. For example, tax filers should never respond to an email from anybody claiming to be the IRS. The IRS does not send tax related emails and does not ask for personal or financial information.

Additionally, filing your return from a secure internet connection is essential. Using an unsecure connection, such as a public WiFi access point, can increase the chance of identity theft.

There are many benefits of filing taxes online, but at the same time it is important to be aware of potential drawbacks, such as identity theft. This type of internet crime is serious. Anybody who finds themselves accused of such a crime can consult with an experienced and knowledgeable criminal law attorney to untangle some messy charges and work to protect his or her interests.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Tax filing online? Seven tips to avoid identity theft" Lou Carlozo, Mar. 17, 2014

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