Minimizing Identity Theft
Though you can’t prevent identity theft entirely, you can minimize your risk.
Facts about Identity Theft
• Identity theft is rarely a stand alone crime
• Identity theft is a costly crime
– Estimated 10 million victims in United States.
– $5 billion annual cost to victims
– almost 300 million hours to restore their good names
Information can be found @ IDtheft.gov
Protect your Social Security Number
Ensure your employer is protecting your SSN
- Don’t carry your Social Security Number (SSN); leave it in a secure place.
- Only give your SSN when absolutely necessary.
- Your employer and financial institution may need your SSN for wage and tax reporting purposes. Don't give a business your SSN just because they ask for it. Find out why before giving it out.
- Ask why your SSN is needed and if other types of identifiers can be used. For example, if your state uses your SSN as your driver’s license number, ask to substitute another number.
- Ask your employer what steps they are taking to protect your SSN at work from theft by someone who might be planning a tax refund crime.
How identity theft occurs
A thief can obtain your personal
identifiable information by…
• Using technology:
– Phishing - Hacking and Trojans
– Skimming - Social Engineering
What is “Phishing”?
Phishing is the act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be a legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that can be used for identity theft.
Using less sophisticated methods:
– Dumpster Diving
– Changing Your Address
– Stealing Mail, Wallet or Purse
What you can do to protect your identity?
• Stay Informed:
– Check your credit report
– Review your bank and credit
• Report incidents of ID Theft
• Secure personal information
• Secure your computer - Encrypt
• Challenge requesters of social security numbers - they usually don’t really need that number.
• Shred / destroy documents
• Secure documents
• IRS does not initiate e-mail contact
to request personal information
• Forward or send suspicious e-mail
Be careful when choosing a tax preparer
If you do not prepare your own return, be careful in choosing your tax preparer - as careful as you would in choosing a doctor or a lawyer. Remember: The tax preparer you select will have access to your personal financial records. Ask your friends and coworkers to recommend a preparer they know and trust. Avoid preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers, or who guarantee results or base fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
For more tips on choosing a tax professional, see Choosing a Tax Return Preparer
• www.IRS.gov keyword search “Identity Theft”
• Contact IRS at 1-800-829-1040
• Publication 4469 - Identity Theft - Outsmarting the Crooks
• Publication 4524 - Security Awareness
• Publication 4535(EN/SP) - Identity Theft
Prevention and Victim Assistance
• Publication 4523(EN/SP) - Beware of Phishing