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Tax season is in full swing, which means scammers and identity thieves are out on the prowl. It is crucial that credit unions help educate their members on the potential risks that exist, and ways they can protect themselves better during tax season. Tax-related scams and identity theft can disrupt an individual’s finances, credit history and reputation, and the scams take time, money and patience to resolve. Unfortunately, most people still possess the “it will never happen to me” mindset. While there is no foolproof way to guarantee a scammer will not target your finances or identity, there are several preventative steps members can take in order to stay vigilant and protect themselves.

In order for thieves to be successful, they must first gain access to a taxpayer’s personal data, including their Social Security number, date of birth or account number. With this information, thieves can open fraudulent credit card accounts or charge existing accounts, obtain loans or jobs, and even receive tax refund payments from the IRS.

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