It is tax time for businesses and individuals. During this season, it is vital to be wise before, during and after-tax season by protecting your confidential information and
taking steps to prevent tax Fraud. According to the IRS, in the first five months of 2017, approximately 107,000 taxpayers were victims of tax identity theft. Tax fraud is widespread because cybercriminals only need a name, date of birth, and Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return.
8 tips to help prevent Tax Fraud and Identity Theft before, during, and
1. Hide Social Security Number
Social Security numbers are a frequent target of many fraudsters and should be securely hidden under all circumstances. They are used in bogus tax returns and are a regular the focus of consumer warnings from the IRS.
2. Use Smart Passwords
Choose a solid and unique password for each site you use, such as online banking, brokerage accounts, PayPal, and other sites where you provide your personal information. Don't have your computer automatically save passwords.
3. Keep all financial and personal information private.
Thieves also try to get your financial information other than through online sites. Beware of providing personal information to someone over the phone or through the
mail. Unless you have initiated the contact or are sure you know the person
you're talking to, it's better to say no.
Beware of Phishing
Phishing is the number one scam on the IRS's 2018 Dirty Dozen List of Tax Scams. Phishing is a term for online scams that use official-looking emails that seem to come from the IRS or your bank. At tax time, unsolicited phishing emails, texts, and social media posts will arrive from 'fake' IRS agents requesting personal and information. Since the government started tracking fake IRS telephone scams five years ago, 12,400 victims have paid more than 61.6 million dollars to scammers.
5. Know the IRS Methods
According to IRS Identity Theft Central, IRS will NEVER do the following:
Contact you by phone, email, or in-person visit without first sending notice via postal mail. In addition, no legitimate phone communications or emails from any government
agency will instruct you to enter your whole Social Security number via phone
keypad or submit it via an online form.
Do not use your phone's "call back" option to return a message from Social Security,
even if it appears to come from this phone number. If you receive a suspicious call, contact the agency's official phone number (800-772-1213) to verify its legitimacy.
6. Keep on top of the latest scams
Familiarize yourself with the latest scams to avoid many bogus IRS shakedowns.
Things you can do to help prevent becoming another victim include:
If you receive notice of a data breach or computer hack, find out what kind of data was taken Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a 'fraud alert' on your credit records:
Equifax.com - 1-800-525-6285
Experian.com - 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion.com - 1-800-680-7289
Visit IdentityTheft.gov for steps you should take right away to protect yourself and your financial accounts.
7. Set up a Storage System
Set up a secure storage system for paper documents and a fireproof safe box is recommended. In addition, convert your paper documents to a digital format, such as from a document scanning company. Save electronic copies to a backup storage device or cloud storage.
8. Use Secure Shredding
Never put confidential documents intact into the garbage or recycling bin. Information
thieves can easily find your personal information in the trash; even if paper
has been ripped up manually, it can be pieced together. When no longer needed,
Keep your confidential information secure before, during, and after-tax season; protect your personal information. If you have any other questions on how to protect your tax documents, contact Shark Shredding at (708) 388-0011.