Attorney general: File your taxes before hackers can get your return

January 03, 2018 06:38 PM

Tax day is Tuesday April 17, but are you preparing to file your tax return early? New York's Attorney General says you should. That's because half the country was impacted by the last summer's Equifax breach and your personal information was exposed to hackers - hackers who could use your information to file a fake tax return. That's why you want to file before the thieves do.

Valarie Hill, owner of Flower City Tax and Accounting, is already busy.

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"We start actually taking appointment before IRS is open for e-file," said Hill.

If you're one of the 145.5 million people affected by the Equifax breach, you're now at risk of tax-related identity theft.

"What a nightmare!  That was exactly the thought because it's going to affect our clientele,” said Hill remembering her reaction to learning about the Equifax breach.

Here's what you need to do.  If you haven’t done so already, check the Equifax website to see if your personal information has been exposed.

 When I did, I got a message telling me my information may have been compromised. That's bad.

It leaves me and millions more who were affected by the Equifax breach vulnerable to tax-related identity theft.

“It's very frustrating,” said Hill.  “I had a gentleman who waited over two years for a refund."

If an identity thief uses your Social Security number to file a return, you'll have to contact the IRS, file forms and wait months for your money.

Even if you've frozen your credit, it does not protect you from tax-related identity theft. Experts say the best protection is to file early before thieves have a chance to do so.

"I caution people that are the early filers, and I say ‘Are you sure that you have everything?’"

Now is the time to make sure you do have everything, so when your W-2 arrives, you're ready to file.

By law, your employer must make your W-2 available by January 31. The IRS has not yet announced when it will begin accepting individual tax returns, but it traditionally begins accepting e-files on the third Monday in January.


Deanna Dewberry

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