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</head> Another reason to beware of the tax system
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Updated: 01/17/2013 08:00:03AM

Another reason to beware of the tax system

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Bartow Police Chief Joseph Hall

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It is 2013, and time to start thinking about preparing your taxes. Hurray.

Last year we saw a surge in tax refund thefts, most prominent in central Florida. The heart of the problem was that the criminal element was using individual’s Social Security numbers to file and claim individual tax returns in hopes of cashing in.

In today’s society, with everyone using the Internet and social media for communications, your personal information is wide open. You need to protect it. There are a couple of basic tips that you can follow to help in these areas:

Protect your personal information by not releasing your Social Security number to anyone. There are times when you may have to, but it doesn’t hurt to ask specifically if it is necessary before you do so.

If you must use the Internet for purchases, verify that you are on a secure and valid site. If you elect to make a purchase, use a credit card and not your debit card. Don’t put your personal information out for everyone see. Shred those documents when you are done, don’t just throw them in the trash.

File your taxes as soon as you possibly can. This will prevent someone from filing in your name and then collecting your refund check. You can file a complaint, but once you have lost your money it will take a considerable amount of time to recover it.

There are some good websites available if questions arise this tax season. Please remember to use reputable companies. The IRS is your best source for answers when it comes to taxes. As always, please contact us at the Bartow Police Department if we can help you in any way.