Income tax season is upon us, and that means identity thieves are just as interested in your returns as you are.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection warned residents on Monday to keep their personal information as safe as possible, so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
Monday was the first day tax returns could be filed; the tax return filing deadline this year is April 17.
The risk of tax identity theft is very real in Wisconsin, with 75 percent of the identity theft complaints made to the department in 2016 related to theft of tax return information.
Unfortunately, one way a taxpayer discovers a theft has been made is when the legitimate return is filed and the government says it’s already been filed.
“The best way to protect yourself from the risk of tax identity theft is to keep your financial and personally-identifiable information (Social Security number, driver’s license, bank accounts, etc.) under lock and key throughout the year,” said Consumer Protection Bureau Director Michelle Reinen.
If filing a return online, make sure anti-virus software is up to date on your computer, and use a strong password for the tax software login. If using a tax preparation service and you see any questionable practices, contact the Consumer Protection Bureau at https://datcp.wi.gov.
Before filing a tax return, you can check with the state to see if any return has already been filed in your name.
The way to do so is go online to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue at https://revenue.wi.gov and click on the Online Services link.
If you think you are a victim of tax identity theft, report the fraud to the IRS, 800-829-0433 and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, 608-266-2486.