Looking forward to getting a fat tax refund check? File early and make sure you beat identity thieves to the punch. Hijacking tax returns is a growing business model for criminals who obtain social security numbers and falsify W-2 forms. Anyone who has had electronic data compromised has an increased risk for redirection of their refund check because it is relatively easy for crooks to duplicate supporting documents and file fraudulently.

financial InstitutionsHerb Weisbaum of CNBC said that tax-related identity theft cases grew from 15% in 2010 of all reported cases to 43% in 2013. As more and more criminals learn that it is much easier and more lucrative to steal with a computer than it is to go to a bank and rob it, or to sell drugs, that number will climb in 2014.

If a cyber villain beats you to filing, the IRS will issue the check and flag your return when you submit later. You will receive a letter from them saying that you have already received your refund, and it will take months for you to make the correction. You will eventually get your refund, but that means the government will have paid that amount twice. And guess who will end up footing the bill? That’s correct; all of us will.

So how do you protect your identity?  The first step is to ensure your email Service Provider has security measures in place to stop the phishing and other email-based threats that cybercriminals use to steal personal identification and financial information.  If you’re a Service Provider, it’s incumbent upon you to ensure you have these safeguards in place.  One a customer’s trust has been broken, it’s nearly impossible to rebuild that confidence.

EdgeWave internet security systems grant the ability to offer subscribers protection from Email and Web-based threats, which is critical to growing any business. Learn more