WASHINGTON (AP) - Your tax return is "a gold mine for an identity thief."
That's the warning from Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education for Experian's "ProtectMyID." She says Experian has partnered with the Identity Theft Council in investigating identity theft, and gained valuable insight from a prison interview with one of the most prominent identity thieves in the country.
He claimed to make an average $10,000 a day during tax season, and Frost says "80 percent of the tax fraud he committed came from stealing people's mail." Sensitive tax documents, especially W-2 forms, are now circulating with all the information a thief needs to file a tax return and get the refund, or for other financial fraud using your identity.
Frost says digital safeguards are also important, but keeping your information private -- whether on paper or a computer file -- is key. And never reply to an email that purports to be from the IRS. The agency says it never sends email requesting personal information.