How to protect your tax refund from theft

ST. LOUIS, MO — It is a hassle when your tax identity is stolen. This may be another bad year for tax identity theft.

St. Louis financial professional Ken Heise from Heise Advisory Group has the steps you should take to protect your refund and identity.

What can we do to protect ourselves?

File early - Filing early is the best defense against tax id theft. If the IRS already has your legitimate tax return on file then scammers will have a much harder time.

Watch for red flags - The IRS is warning there could be signs that your social security number or other personal information has been compromised.  Red flags include forms from the IRS that include wages you didn't earn or a W-2 form or a 1099 from an employer you don`t work for.

Be secure - If you're e-filing your taxes, make sure you have a security software with firewall and anti-virus protection.
Do not use public wi-fi; instead use a private, password-protected connection. Treat your tax documents and any documents with your personal information like cash, and don`t leave them lying around in the open.

Adjust your withholding - If you're the victim of tax ID theft, it can take months to get your refund. The average refund in 2017 was about $2,800. The bigger the refund you`re waiting for, the more frustrating the wait will be! By adjusting your withholding, you can reduce the size of your refund and get more money in your paycheck year-round.