How Safe Are Your Tax Secrets?
- Your tax return preparer. Because their files hold so many returns, professional return preparers are a natural target of information thieves. These can range from a clerk using a photocopier to sophisticated hackers. When considering hiring a professional return preparer, ask about the firm's privacy and security policies.
- Your own records. If you keep your tax records in a desk drawer or a personal computer, they aren't secure from anyone. Curious family members, nosy guests, outright intruders may get to them. Keep your tax records secured under "lock and key."
- Distributing your return. Increasingly, organizations are requesting copies of tax returns on applications of various kinds -- such as when applying for financial aid for school, children's programs, YMCAs and so on. How will these organizations protect your information? Ask! Don't provide a full return if less information will serve. Ask to have the return sent back to you after the information on it is processed.
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