As we enter tax season 2016, it’s that time of year to reset our vigilance and remind ourselves of best practices regarding identity theft protection particularly as they relate to filing taxes.
Identity theft still tops the list of taxpayer concerns. According to the most recent Javelin Strategy & Research, identity thieves stole $16 billion from 12.7 million US consumers in 2014.
Still, some good news was reported: the numbers are actually down from the previous year. The drop is likely the result of an increased awareness from consumers together with increased protections in place from industry and government. The more you know about how to protect yourself, the better chance you have to not be a victim.
We will spend the next couple of weeks emphasizing best practices.
- Understand that public wi-fi access really does mean public. You may be sharing your information with more than you think. Unless you know the wi-fi connection is 100% to be trusted, do not use it to access anything containing your private information
- Remember your paper documents are vulnerable as well. We get so excited about internet hackers we can forget the easiest thing to do is dumpster dive for your credit statements, bank receipts and copies of old tax returns. Protect you private information on paper as well as on-line.
- Keep your mailing address current. More and more people are moving around more and more. When you move, it’s vital to make sure you contact your financial institutions and tax authorities so your private information doesn’t just get delivered like a layup into the wrong hands.
- Along those lines, keep an eye out for bills including your credit card statements. Read them over and make sure they are accurate. Also check credit reports a couple of times of year to scan for fishy activity.
More to come next week. Yes, next week is February!
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