The recent Equifax Hack (Large theft of consumer data from credit bureau) highlights the need to take the information on this page seriously and take action. The new universal laws include death,
taxes, and ID theft. DO IT!
Link to IRS publication regarding Identify Theft
Todd's Tips on Preventing Identity Theft
*Stop carrying a checkbook.
*Use credit card or cash.
*Do not use debit cards for routine purchases.
*Close unused accounts. (Credit or Line of Credit)
*Shred or burn old personal papers.
*Shred or burn all junk mail (don't throw in trash).
*Stop Carrying your social security card.
*Install a small safe in your home.
*Install a security system in your home.
*Install anti-virus software on your computers and mobile devices. I recommend Symantec's suite of products including Norton anti-virus software available online or at Walmart.
*Use a different password for each financial account. (Don't use the same password for all banks, credit cards, financial etc.)
*Use strong passwords. (Random strings of numbers and letters and symbols) Change them periodically.
*Log in to your bank account(s) weekly to monitor activity. Notify your bank of any unauthorized charges, even if the amounts are small.
*Consider maintaining a separate bank account that is NOT set up for online access. This account can contain emergency cash in case your primary account gets hacked.
*Freeze Your credit (Easy to do and only costs a few bucks to do it)
(MN Freeze Law)
*If you have a financial account (Brokerage, IRA, etc) and access the account online, sign up for text verification. When you log in to your account, the company texts you a code needed to sign in. If your password is compromised, the hacker will still be unable to access your account. Vanguard offers this service.
*Because of the unprecedented size of the Equifax breach, I now recommend that all clients fill out a 14039 and send it to the IRS requesting a PIN #. Starting December 12, 2017, I will be in the office and will help anyone who wants assistance in completing this process. Signing up for the PIN # will stop someone else from filing a tax return using your social security #. There will no charge for this service and the IRS does not charge a fee either.
*Protect your bank account. One of your biggest risks is that someone will hack into your bank account and drain it. The process of recovering from this is not something you want to go through. Do not write checks out for small purchases in grocery stores, small retailers, restaurants etc. Use a credit card or cash. Use a strong password for your online banking. Set up for text alerts that text you when certain types of transactions occur on your account.
*In an environment like this, you can't afford to talk to people on the phone or who knock on your door unless you know them.
*Don't waste your money on credit monitoring services. If you freeze your credit as suggested previously and check your report annually (no charge), your risk will be greatly reduced. Equifax has had credit monitoring services that people pay for. Was that a good deal?
New - The IRS may send you a letter requesting that you go to an official IRS website and verify your identity. Receipt of one of these letters indicates that the IRS has received a tax return filed in your social security number and the IRS has reason to believe that the filed return may be fraudulent. Call us to verify that the letter you have received is legitimate. We can assist you in going to the website and completing the verification process. The good news is that this program points to a proactive IRS that is catching identity thieves in the act and not issuing erroneous refunds.
The IRS has special phone numbers and staff dedicated to assisting identify theft victims:
What do I do if I have not been contacted by IRS for a tax issue but believe I am a victim of identity theft?
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe your IRS records may be at risk due to a lost/stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity, credit report, or other activity, you need to provide the IRS with proof of your identity.
You should submit a copy, not the original documents, of your valid Federal or State issued identification, such as a social security card, driver's license, or passport, etc, along with a copy of a police report and/or a completed IRS Identity Theft Affidavit - Form 14039. Please send these documents using one of the following options:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 9039
Andover, MA 01810-0939
FAX: Note that this is not a toll-free FAX number
You may also contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free 1-800-908-4490 for resource information and guidance.
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).
I will provide assistance to any affected client at no additional charge including copying and faxing the necessary forms.
Because of the potential for a long delay in issuing a refund when identity theft is involved, change your withholding so that you will have a small balance due on your return if possible. Please contact me for assistance
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Todd's Tax Service LLC
ID Theft is the fastest growing crime in America.