Fraud and identity theft continues to increase. What can you do to protect yourself?
- Safeguard your personal information. Keep it close. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card number, bank or other account numbers to anyone who does not need it. All of this information can be used to impersonate you.
- Be aware of scams. Often, criminals get information simply by asking for it. Be wary of emails and phone calls asking for account numbers. If you receive an email or phone call that seems illegitimate, call the company on the phone number listed on their official website to confirm the call or email is legitimate.
- Update your passwords frequently. Use a strong password—one that includes letters, numbers, and special characters. Longer passwords are better. Don’t use names or common words. Consider password management software to create strong passwords.
- Use two-factor authentication, which requires an item of information that you know, and one item that is generated for you. This adds another layer of protection onto your password.
- Protect your home wireless network by setting a password and using encryption. Consider setting up a guest Wi-Fi to avoid giving your password out to guests.
- Back up critical information to an external hard drive or cloud account. In the event of a disaster, you’ll want to have access to this information.
Rejected Tax Return for Duplication
If your tax return has been rejected because of a fraudulent duplicate tax return filed under your social security number, or think you may have been a victim of identity theft, these are the steps you should take. Putting in safeguards will protect you from further issues even if you only suspect your information has been compromised.
Contact these three credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Equifax, Equifax.com, 800.766.0008
- Experian, Experian.com, 888.397.3742
- TransUnion, Transunion.com, 800.680.7289
• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov.
• Pull your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com to see if there is anything suspect already showing on all 3 of your reports.
• If there is anything suspect on your credit, contact each of the creditors to report you were a victim of identity theft.
• If you choose, you can sign up for an identity theft protection service like LifeLock.com.
Compromised information does not only affect your tax return, but could cause ripples throughout the rest of your financial life through credit report score reductions, collection attempts for accounts you never opened, delayed tax refunds, denial of credit, liens or judgements and additional issues with accounts many years down the road. Establishing hurdles for would-be scammers and identity thieves can go a long way to preventing issues in all aspects of your life.
If you have any questions or need assistance with any of these scenarios, feel free to set up a consultation with us so we can determine the best course of action to take.