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There are some rabbit holes you definitely don’t want to fall down during tax season. One such hole, and an increasingly-common nightmarish scenario, is finding out your tax refund has been stolen.

In a recent article, Allison Martin of Money Talk News was the bearer of bad news for some taxpayers:

MarketWatch says the Internal Revenue Service’s Identity Theft Protection Specialized Unit received about 450,000 cases last year—78 percent more than 2011. The IRS also stopped $20 billion in fraudulent refunds in 2012.”

How can you avoid being both victim and statistic? Martin sketched 8 ways taxpayers can save themselves a migraine. A few of her suggestions are common sense ones, such as protecting your personal information at all costs. So, carelessness is out, as is leaving around or giving out data like your address or Social Security number. You are your privacy, so protect it.

Also, you should take no small amount of pleasure in frustrating those insidious computer hackers — so make sure you’re always a step ahead of ’em by being current with your anti-virus protection. And don’t save computer files that have confidential info—that stuff’s thieves’ gold, and only a few clicks away from being pinched.

Likewise, if you’re receiving a refund check, opt to have it sent directly to your bank account. There are baddies out there who view your mailbox as their personal ATM.

And don’t be afraid to check your credit report regularly. If someone’s been doing something that’ll adversely affect your score, what you don’t know will hurt you.

And what if you are ever victimized, hacked or scammed by a disreputable tax preparer? Martin says to call the IRS [or DOR] immediately. No, it’s not foolproof, but taking Martin’s 8 suggestions to heart will go a long way in ensuring that you have a successful tax season this year, and no need for the Advil.

 

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