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Every year, thousands of identity theft incidents occur around tax season. In 2011, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) department officials identified as many as 260,000 identity theft fraud attempts, revealing a striking increase from 49,000 in 2010. During tax season and throughout the year, it is critical to safeguard confidential data. Follow the tips below to safeguard your sensitive information:

  • Create a retention schedule and securely shred documents once they are no longer needed.
  • Store sensitive documents in a secure place; this includes electronic and paper documents.
  • Monitor online accounts and check credit reports regularly.
  • Protect sensitive files and documents with unique passwords. Change them monthly and avoid common passwords, including birthdays and maiden names.
  • Remove sensitive information from old computers, cell phones or tablets before disposing.
  • If a website asks for your credit card or social security number, verify that it is a secure site. Do so by checking for a padlock icon, which is typically located to the right of the address bar.