Tax day 2011: Four ways to protect your tax returns from data thieves

3. Lock up or destroy paper documents

  • close
    Shredded paper sits in a garbage can. When you dispose of tax-related documents, like W-2's or 1099's, make sure they aren't readable first.
    Photo illustration/Kelly Redinger/Design Pics/Newscom
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

Dumpster-diving identity thieves aren't necessarily in your backyard sifting through your garbage can for your W-2. A thief could be worker at the recycling plant or the janitor at your office, Terry says. So, destroy your documents or keep them locked up in a safe.

Ms. Wallace says it’s a good idea to shred documents, as long as it doesn’t give people a false sense of security.

“Protecting physical documents, paper documents is important, but so is electronic protection,” Wallace says.

And if you’re filing a paper return?

“Walk it yourself to the post office, get it certified mail, and make sure that you hand it to the clerk, Terry says.

3 of 4