Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. With the increased reports of identity theft, you need to take preventive steps to minimize your risk, and if your identity has been stolen, you need to know what action steps to take.
The IRS discusses sound preventive steps to reduce your risk of identity theft and action steps to take if your identity has been stolen on its website http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft#.UVWmOn9_t6o.email. One of the IRS’s recommendations to help minimize identity theft is to request your free annual credit report which can be found at: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. Since there are 3 agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) that provide credit reports, we suggest that you do NOT request your free credit report from each agency at the same time since you are only allowed one free credit report each year from each agency. We recommend to our clients that they request their free annual report from one of the individual agencies on a rotating basis every 4 months. Thus, if there is suspicious activity on your credit report, you will hopefully be able to identify it within a four-month period rather than requesting your free reports from all 3 companies once a year.
Despite taking precautionary steps, what action steps should you take if you suspect or know that you confidential information has been breached? Again, a great resource is the aforementioned IRS website to read its “Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.” In addition to recommending the filing a police report, the IRS has provided links to the Federal Trade Commission, the 3 credit-reporting agencies, and the filing of Form 14039 with the IRS.
While not mentioned on the IRS website, you may wish to contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov), the National Association of Attorney Generals (www.naag.org), and the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline (800-269-0271).
Due to the increased identify theft crimes, future blog posts will discuss how to better protect yourself during the tax season, how to protect you home computer from viruses and hackers, using better caution when using a public computer, FBI Internet Security measures to use, and publications that you should have in your possession should you be a victim of identity theft.
If you want to learn more about your personal situation, we invite you to call 610-594-2601 today to make an appointment at our Exton PA CPA office to discuss your situation. You can also schedule a consultation at Click Here.