Protecting your identity during tax season - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Protecting your identity during tax season

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

As tax season begins to kick into gear, investigators say you need to keep your guard up against identity theft.

"We see it all the time," says Richmond Co. Sheriff's Office Sgt. Michael McDaniel. "It's not an uncommon practice. It does happen a lot."

Just this week, 12 CSRA residents were indicted on tax fraud and identity theft charges after Richmond Co., FBI, and IRS investigators say they conspired to file over 90 fake tax returns using stolen identities between 2009 and 2011.

The phony returns sought refunds totaling over $500,000.

McDaniel says you could be a victim too, and it could do major damage to your financial well-being.

"It could get to where you owe the IRS money," he says. "Anything being done to your identity is going to have some kind of long-term adverse effect."

McDaniel says the best practice to protect yourself is to be vigilant and check your credit score twice a year.

But also be mindful against new and old threats.

"Be cautious when going to your hotspots where they have wireless Internet," he says. "Then, old school, check your mail and be mindful of what's in your mailbox."

That way when it comes tax time, properly filing is your only worry.

INDICTED:

Angela Willingham, 40, Hephzibah

Santana Willingham, 23, Hephzibah

James Butler, 21, Hephzibah

Dentavia McNair, 23, Augusta

Brittney Wright, 25, Evans

Janice Smalley, 47, Augusta

Patrice Roberson, 36, Waynesboro

Cheryl Willingham, 37, Augusta

Matthew Harrington, 45, Savannah

Santrece Willingham, 22, Hephzibah

Lasandra Whitfield, 42, Waynesboro

Kelly Barton, 35, Augusta

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