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So You Filed Your Taxes. Now What?

Posted By Kenyatta Turner, LegalShield Independent Associate, Friday, May 6, 2016


After filing your taxes there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for next year’s filing, protect yourself from scammers and even ease worry about a potential audit. This may include storing documents where you can easily find them, protecting your personal financial information from thieves and being ready should you be selected for an audit. 

•    Hold on to your tax documents. Save copies of your return as well as all of the receipts and other documents you use to prepare your taxes. Keep the documents in a safe and accessible location. You may be asked to produce documents to back up your return. Having all of the information organized and accessible will make it easier for you to validate your return should the IRS come calling. It is a good rule of thumb to retain your tax records for six (6) years. While you may not need all of your tax documents for that long, it is better to have them available should you need them.

•    Keep your documents safe. Whether you file online or use a professional you must keep your personal information safe. Tax returns are a goldmine for identity thieves. Never store sensitive information on public computers or transmit financial information through unsecured WiFi. 

•    Watch for signs of identity theft. Your tax information may be at risk of falling into the wrong hand at no fault of your own. Scammers have been targeting human resources and payroll professionals. Scammers have requested W-2s by email using spoofing to pose as company executives. Click here to learn more about this scam. If you believe you may be the victim of identity theft and you have an IDShield membership call (800) 806-3991. If you do not have an IDShield membership visit to learn more.

•    Beware of phony audit or IRS correspondence. If you receive a phone call at home or work from someone claiming to be an IRS official collecting a debt do not make a payment or provide them with your personal information. Scammers pose as IRS officials and use severe threats to convince victims to make immediate payment or to provider personal financial information. The IRS will not contact you by phone, email or in person for an audit or to collect back taxes. Legitimate communication from the IRS will come via postal mail. Do not respond to, open or click on any links in emails claiming to be from the IRS. If you believe you may owe back taxes you should contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 or the Canada Revenue Agency at 800-959-8281.

•    Be ready if you are audited. Only a small percentage of tax payers will ever face an audit, but the threat alone is enough to make many worry. Often, you will simply be asked to clarify a particular portion of your return rather than face a full audit. If you are audited, your LegalShield family plan offers audit legal services starting with your tax return due on April 15th of your first membership year. This includes an attorney at your initial audit meeting and if necessary an attorney to represent you further at the preferred member rate. If you receive notice of an audit, call your LegalShield provider law firm right away.

•    Improve the process for next year. If getting your documents together to file and figuring out deductions was difficult this year, learn from those challenges. Is there a better way to track expenses or file receipts? Figure out how to improve the process so you don’t face the same headaches next year.



Tags:  bookkeeping  identity protection  identity theft  IRS  legal competency  tax planning  tax strategy  taxes 

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Personal IRS Identity Theft Experience

Posted By George (Clint) Frederick CPA PLLC, George Frederick CPA PLLC, Wednesday, March 30, 2016

In my post of March 11, 2016, “IDENTITY THEFT KINGPEN CAUGHT BECAUSE HE FLUNKED GEOGRAPHY”, I mentioned identity theft was becoming personal.  My daughters’ electronically filed tax return was rejected since someone had already filed a tax return using her social security number.   The solution was to file a paper tax return with the IRS.  In my post, I said to ‘stay tuned for further developments’.

 Monday, March 28, my daughter received a letter from the IRS.  The letter contained instructions to go to a website and answer some personal questions, or call a specific number of the IRS.  She first went to the website and answered some specific questions. One of the questions was the birthdate of a former sister-in-law of her husband.  Another was a question about different addresses.  After answering the website questions, she was then directed to call a specific IRS number.  She called and was placed on hold for an hour.  The fraud department of the IRS is shorthanded and very busy.

Finally, after an hour she was able to talk to an IRS representative.  The representative stated the fraudulent tax return filed had been flagged since it did not fit the profile of her previously filed tax returns.  “The IRS is getting smarter because of the amount of fraudulent tax returns being filed.  We now track the trends of taxpayers.”  After proving her identity, she was told to expect her refund in about six weeks, as opposed to the 10 days it normally takes for an electronically filed tax return. She was also told to expect a letter from the IRS advising her of other action to take, such as contacting the Social Security Administration, Credit Bureaus, and other action to take.  She will also receive a specific pin number to use when filing future tax returns.  


Tags:  accountants  fraud  identity protection  taxes 

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Study Shows 44% of Small Businesses Hacked | How to Protect Yourself

Posted By Arizona Small Business Association, Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The costs associated with computer and website attacks can run well into the thousands and even millions of dollars for a small company. According to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association 44% of small businesses have been victimized. Those companies had costs averaging $8,700.

Tags:  hackers  identity protection  Security 

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Debit vs. Credit Card ID Theft

Posted By Arizona Small Business Association, Saturday, August 9, 2014
Updated: Saturday, August 9, 2014

Which type of card protects you the best? With over 1.5 billion credit cards and more than half a billion debit cards in use in the U.S.1, millions of consumers have a choice, but some cards are safer than others.

Is it a stacked deck?

There are essentially four types of cards used to pay for goods and services—ATM, debit, credit and what are called virtual cards. ATM cards are used less often than in the past because they are cash withdraw cards only, although many people think of them as debit cards.

Debit cards are like an electronic check. You can access your bank accounts through ATM machines and make purchases paid directly out of your bank account. They have either the VISA or MasterCard logo, and they account for more than $1 trillion in annual purchases made by U.S. consumers.1

Credit cards are found in over 91 million American households.2 They are not attached to bank accounts and payments can be made over time. You can also use them to withdraw cash at most ATM machines. Credit cards are issued by banks, retailers and other institutions, and those issued by VISA, Mastercard, Discover and American Express can be used at hundreds of thousands of locations around the world.

Virtual cards aren’t physical cards at all. When you shop online, you can use an alternate number issued by your credit card company. It’s often a temporary number for one time use and the transaction is billed on your regular credit card statement.

And the winner (loser) is…

Whether through physical theft, hacking, malware or data breaches, all individuals with any of these cards are subject to identity theft by having their card information stolen.

Carrying the least amount of risk is the virtual card, since it has a time or transaction limitation and there is no personal information connected with it.

But in comparing the two most widely used forms of payment—debit and credit cards—credit cards offer more protection and less risk because funds are not being directly withdrawn from the user’s bank account as it is with a debit card. Fraudulent withdrawals on a debit card can result in bounced checks and no access to cash while the bank investigates their report.

Additionally, most credit card companies allow 90 days for a victim to report an unauthorized transaction, while banks generally require a two-day notice for unauthorized debit card purchases. For debit cards, your loss is limited to $50 only if you notify your financial institution two business days after learning of loss or theft. It then goes to $500 until 60 days after the statement is mailed and becomes unlimited thereafter. For a credit card, your liability is limited to $50 for any fraudulent use.

Other steps for safer shopping.

First, make sure the website you’re shopping on is secure and starts with an https:// instead of http://. You’ll also see a small lock on the lower right hand corner of the screen. This means the site is secure for transactions.

Don’t do online shopping in public places such as coffee shops or public Wi-Fi areas. Their networks are usually unsecure and the information you are entering might be stolen right there at that location. Finally, avoid using retail websites to store your personal and payment information. Although it speeds up the checkout process, it leaves your identity and financial information exposed should that server experience a data breach.

1, Credit Card Statistics, Industry Facts, Debt Statistics,
2 ITRC Face Sheet 131 – Credit Card vs. Debit Card,
3 FTC Fair Credit Billing Act

Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book For
January – December 2011.” February 2012.

Javelin Strategy & Research. "2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming
the New Fraud Frontier." February 2012.


Tags:  credit card  debit  identity protection 

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