Tax Day's coming up. Here are 4 ways to protect your refund.

Floridians are more at risk than taxpayers living in any other state

By Nikki Kimbleton - The Morning Show anchor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two months out from Tax Day, state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is urging Floridians to take steps to protect themselves from fraud.

Florida, you may recall, ranks as the top state for fraud and among the leading states for identity theft. That's why Patronis said it's crucial to safeguard both your identity and tax refund.

“Last year, the IRS reported a staggering $46 million claimed in fraudulent refunds," Patronis said. "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.”

Here are some tips to scam-proof your tax return:

1. Enroll in the Internal Revenue Service IP PIN Pilot Program
Citing Florida’s high rate of identity theft, the IRS launched their IRS IP PIN pilot program to help shield taxpayers from fraud. Your PIN is a unique six-digit number that is assigned annually to help confirm a taxpayer is the rightful filer of the return. This pilot program allows all Floridians to opt-in.

2. File your return as early as possible
The sooner you file your tax return, the less likely a crook is to beat you to it and steal your hard-earned money. Unfortunately, if a criminal does file a return in your name, the IRS estimates it can take up to 180 days to resolve your case.

3. Shred your old tax and bank documents
This is key. Get rid of your old financial documents securely by shredding them once you no longer need them. Receipts, bank statements and tax documents can allow criminals access to your personal information.

4. Be scam savvy as Tax Day approaches
Don't fall victim to phone calls with the caller claiming to be an IRS official. Always remember: the IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a mailed notice, and they do not require that you pay your taxes a certain way, such as a prepaid debit card. The IRS will also not threaten to arrest you for not paying on time.

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