Identity theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personal identifying information such as social security numbers and driver’s license numbers and uses them for their own personal gain.
Victims can experience adverse consequences that range from having money transferred out of checking and savings accounts to having their social security number illegally used.
Tax-Related identity theft is when a thief uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or to gain employment.
“With an estimated 17.6 million people or 7% of all US residents age 16 or older victims of identity theft in 2014. Among identity theft victim’s, existing bank (38%) or credit card (42%) accounts were the most common types of misused information.” -U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics
Taking positive steps to decrease your risk of identity theft is a priority of the firm. One tool each of our clients has is access to is a client (web) portal used to house important tax documents.
Consider these statistics:*
- People aged 18-24 are the highest group at risk.
- 86% of identity theft victims experienced the fraudulent use of existing account. information, such as credit card or bank account information.
- 43% of all identity theft is a result of stolen wallet or paperwork.
- The number of elderly victims of identity theft increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014.
- 1 in 10 U.S. consumers have already experienced identity theft.
So, what can you do to help minimize tax-related identity theft? Here are some identity theft protection tips provided by irs.gov.
- Keep your card and any other document that shows your Social Security number in a safe place; DO NOT routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number.
- Be careful about sharing your number, even when you are asked for it; ONLY share your SSN when absolutely necessary.
- Protect your personal financial information at home and on your computer.
- Check your credit report.
- Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for Internet accounts.
- Protect your personally identifiable information; keep it private. Only provide your SSN when YOU initiate the contact or you are sure who you know is asking.
Please contact us if you have questions on how we use client web portals to help safeguard your documents.
*Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, Identity Theft Supplement, 2014.