According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft was the number one fraud complaint during calendar year 2008. Not unlike other organizations in the Information Technology industry today, SNX I.T. aims to inform its customers and prospects alike of the best ways to protect oneself from identity theft. The National Crime Prevention Council, United States Postal System, and the IRS help consumers prevent the threat of identity theft by posting helpful prevention tips and security measures that should be taken in order to avoid this hassle.
Facts about Identity Theft:
- Limiting your use of your personal computer may not help much: a study released by Javelin Strategy and Research reported that in 2009 most identity thefts were taking place offline, not online…the opposite of what most people think.
- The above study found that 43 percent of all identity thefts are committed by someone the victim knows.
- All a thief needs is your Social Security number to commit identity theft.
Identity thieves commit their crime in several ways:
- Stealing credit card payments and other outgoing mail from private, curbside mailboxes.
- Digging through garbage cans or communal dumpsters in search of cancelled checks, credit card and bank statements, and preapproved credit card offers.
- Hacking into computers that contain personal records and steal the data.
- Filing a change of address form in the victim’s name to divert mail and gather personal and financial data.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft:
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or birth certificateleave them in a secure location. Also, never give out your Social Security number; treat it as confidential information.
- Protect your financial information.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, antispam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
- Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- Closely monitor the expiration dates on your credit cards and contact the issuer if you don’t receive a replacement prior to the expiration date.
- Sign new credit cards immediately-before someone else does.
- Memorize your Social Security number and passwords. Don’t use your date of birth as your password and don’t record passwords on papers you carry with you.
- Never leave transaction receipts at ATM machines, on counters at financial institutions, or at gasoline pumps.
- Commit all passwords to memory. Never write them down or carry them with you.
- When using an ATM machine, make sure no one is hovering over you and can see you enter your password.
- Tell your children never to give out their address telephone number password school name or any other personal information.
- Make sure your children know to never agree to meet face-to-face with someone they’ve met online without discussing it with you. Only if you decide that it’s okay to meet their “cyber-friend” should they arrange to meet this person, and then the meeting should be in a familiar public place in the presence of a trusted adult.
- Tell your children never to enter an area that charges for services without asking you first.
- Tell your children never to send a picture of themselves to anyone without your permission.
- Make sure that access to the Internet at your children’s school is monitored by adults.
- Beware of mail or telephone solicitations that offer prizes or awards-especially if the person offering asks you for personal information or financial account numbers.
- Match your credit card receipts against your monthly bills and check your monthly financial statements for accuracy.
- Watch for your monthly financial statements and bills. If you don’t get them when expected, contact the sender.
If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft…
The Internal Revenue Service is taking additional steps during the 2013 tax season to protect taxpayers and help victims of identity theft and refund fraud. If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft, follow the steps below.
- Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:
- More than one tax return for you was filed;
- You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return;
- IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or
- Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.
- If you receive a notice from IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.
- If you did not receive a notice but believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 8009084490, extension 245 right away so we can take steps to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN.
- Fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.
- Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 8774384338 or TTY 8666534261.
- File a report with the local police.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:
- Equifax – www.equifax.com, 8005256285
- Experian – www.experian.com, 8883973742
- TransUnion – www.transunion.com, 8006807289
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft http://www.irs.gov/uac/TaxpayerGuidetoIdentityTheft