Print Page   |   Your Cart   |   Sign In
Business
Group HomeGroup Home Blog Home Group Blogs
Search all posts for:   

 

View all (686) posts »
 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT

Posted By George (Clint) Frederick CPA PLLC, George Frederick CPA PLLC, Monday, July 18, 2016

 HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICCPA) this week suggested a letter to mail to all accounting firm clients with suggestions for protecting you and your family from identity theft.  The issue hits close to home since my daughter was a victim of identity theft last year.  We did not discover the theft until we tried to file her 2014 income tax return.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) promptly notified us that she had already filed her tax return.  What to do?  First, call the police department and report the theft.  File form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit) with the IRS. If you need specialized assistance, call the IRS at 800-908-4490. The IRS does not accept an electronic return when you are a victim of identity fraud.  Instead, the old-fashioned paper return is required.  My daughter has yet to receive her refund.  Per the IRS it might be as long as six months.   

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) estimates that for 2013 fraudulent tax returns obtained about $5.8 billion and affected 2.4 million US taxpayers.  That number is increasing.  In a recent seminar I attended on identity theft for professional tax practioners the moderator asked the audience how many had clients that were victims of identity theft.  The show of hands was unanimous.  All had clients that were victims.

The AICPA recommended the following safeguards:

·         Secure private personal information.  Safeguard family names and birthdays, account numbers, passwords, and especially Social Security Numbers. Carefully consider all requests to provide your Social Security number before giving it out.  Do not carry your social security card in your purse or wallet. Shred unneeded documents that contain personal information, including junk mail solicitations.

·          Monitor personal information shared on social media.  Cybercriminals methodically gather data from online sources, including commonly used identifiers such as birthdate, maiden name, pet names, hometown, significant other, and children’s information.  Be cautious with who you communicate with online and be selective before accepting electronic invitations from people you do not know or recognize.  Separate what you post publically and from what you post with your personal contacts.  Do not post personal and family data.     

·         Secure your computer.  Use current version of antivirus, malware protection, and firewalls and update these programs frequently.  Consider having this software updated automatically, as well as using separate computers for business and finances than you do for social media and personal matters. Use strong passwords and change them frequently.

·         Beware of impersonators.  Criminals use sophisticated computer technology, such as dialers and automated questions, to contact thousands of targets daily.  Do not provide personal information to callers you do not know.   Watch out if a caller requests you verify personal information. Ask questions; their telephone number, name of their supervisor, email address, mailing address, their website.  The IRS never initiates contact by telephone.  They contact you using USPS. 

·         Unsolicited emails and phishing swindles. Do not open attachments or electronic links unless you know the sender.  Internet sites should they are encrypted.  Always be aware of entering sensitive data.  Forward emails received from IRS impersonators to phishing@irs.gov  The IRS never initiates contact by email, text message, or social media channels. 

·         Monitor your personal information.  Review your bank and credit card statements often.

·         Electronic transmission of financial information.  Do not send sensitive tax or personal information via unsecured email, even information transmitted to CPAs, bankers, and/or financial advisors.  A secure portal, encrypted email or physical mailing of sensitive information is necessary. 

·         Order your free annual credit report.  Call 877-322-8228 or go to www.annualcreditreport.com to request your report and search for creditors you do not know.  Choose to use only the last four digits of your Social Security number on your report.  Consider placing a credit card freeze on your account so only approved creditors can access your file. 

Another swindle becoming quite popular is the "Grandparents scam”.  In the conference I attended, one person in the audience related her story of her parents being a victim.  A swindler called her parents, identified by name their Grandson, identified himself as their Grandson’s good friend.  The Grandparents   recognized the name of their Grandson’s friend.  The caller said they were traveling in Mexico and their Grandson is in jail and needs bail money.  "Please don’t call our parents, the friend pleads!”  The Grandparents wired $8,500 to the caller.  The person relating the story stated, "Why my parents didn’t call me I’ll never know!”  The money is lost and not recoverable.

 The reality is your personal data is already at risk everywhere.  However, following the above suggestions reduces the likelihood of becoming an identity theft victim.  The main thing however, just be cognizant and aware, think about why someone wants your information. Maybe, disclosure not necessary.  

Tags:  accounting  fraud  identity theft  IRS  tax 

Share |
Permalink | Comments (0)
 

Join Fasturtle on 12/12

FT

Join Eric Olsen, Fasturtle Digital, with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Content:
How SEO and content marketing can help bring relevant traffic to your website.

REGISTER

Join ASBA

ASBA

ASBA is the most powerful resource for your business in Arizona. We ensure the tools we offer are valuable and support the growth, education and connections necessary for today’s top business minds.

LEARN MORE

Partner Program

ASBA

ASBA’s Partner Program delivers your brand throughout Arizona. Share insights, connect with small business and highlight your company’s involvement with the association. Contact Jodi Towns to get started.

LEARN MORE

RSVP

Coffee Connect with ASBA

REGISTER

Date: Held monthly
Time: Click for times based on location

RSVP

ASBA Speed Networking

REGISTER

Date: Held monthly
Time: Click for times based on location

Have Questions on Health Insurance?

Health Insurance

Do you have questions on plans for Individual, sole proprietor, or group? We can get the answers needed to make sure you find the right plan for you and your employees.

LEARN MORE

ASBA Ask a Lawyer

ASU Law Group

ASU Law Group is here to help you with your small business legal needs! Fill out the form today and an ASU Law Group attorney will reach out to you. Only for Business/APEX members.

ASK A LAWYER

Upcoming Events

Health+Plus

Join ASBA at any of our upcoming events!

REGISTER

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal