Floridians: Follow these tips to protect your tax refund from fraud

CFO says Florida is worst state for fraud

(Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. – With tax season underway, Floridians are urged to take steps to keep their refunds safe from fraud.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis says the Sunshine State is worst in the nation when it comes to fraud and No. 2 for identity theft.

“Last year, the IRS reported a staggering $46 million claimed in fraudulent refunds. Don’t fall victim to criminals this tax season and protect your identity by enrolling in the IRS PIN program or by taking other proactive protection steps immediately,” Patronis said.

Patronis' office released the list of tips below designed to protect Floridians from tax fraud and identity theft.

1. File your return as soon as possible.

A criminal can't file a return in your name if you do it first, so Patronis recommends filing your return before anyone else can. If a fraudulent return is filed in your name, it could take up to 180 days for the case to be resolved.

2. Shred old tax and bank documents

Criminals can access your personal information on old receipts, bank documents and tax forms, so be sure to shred and properly dispose of those financial documents when you no longer need them.

3. Enroll in the IRS IP PIN pilot program

In an effort to prevent identity theft, the IRS launched an IPN PIN pilot program. Each taxpayer is given a unique, six-digit number to help confirm the identity of the person filing. All Floridians are eligible to opt in to this program. Click here for information on how to enroll.

4. Be aware of scams

As April 15 approaches, there could be an uptick in scammers trying to prey on taxpayers. Keep in mind that the IRS will not call you even if you owe taxes without sending a notification in the mail first. The IRS would never require you to pay through a prepaid debit card or threaten to arrest you for not paying taxes.

For more information on things to be aware of this tax season, click here.