Unfortunately Identity Theft and telephone scams are happening to more and more of us. I get calls almost every day from people telling me that they got a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent and demanding money. I even got one of those calls on my cell phone and the person said that there was a warrant for my arrest.
The theft of your identity, especially personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, address and children’s names, can be traumatic, scary and frustrating. It’s important to always be on guard.
Here are seven steps you can make part of your routine to protect your tax and financial information:
1. Read your credit card and bank statements carefully and often – watch for even the smallest charge that appears suspicious. (Neither your credit card company, your bank, or the IRS – will send you emails asking for sensitive personal and financial information such as asking you to update your account.)
2. Review and let us know if you receive any notices and correspondence from the IRS or state taxing authorities. Warning signs of tax-related identity theft can include IRS notices about tax returns you did not file, income you did not receive or employers you’ve never heard of or where you’ve never worked.
3. Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get your free reports.
4. Review your annual Social Security income statement for excessive income reported. You can sign up for an electronic account at www.SSA.gov.
5. Read your health insurance statements; look for claims you never filed or care you never received.
6. Shred any documents with personal and financial information. Never toss documents with your personally identifiable information, especially your social security number, in the trash.
7. If you receive any routine federal deposit such as Social Security Administrator or Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, you probably receive those deposits electronically. You can use the same direct deposit process for your federal and state tax refund. IRS direct deposit is safe and secure and places your tax refund directly into the financial account of your choice.