The IRS Has a Plan to Beat Identity Theft
In this day and age, almost everyone could stand to have some identity theft protection. Identity theft is a huge problem all across America, and it doesn’t specifically target any income level, age group, or demographic. Anyone could be at risk, so it’s of utmost importance that you arm yourself and your loved ones against this indiscriminate and deeply damaging crime. While awareness for identity theft (and the ability to catch the warning signs) is tantamount, the IRS itself is fighting against identity theft in their own ways – and they may have already made a huge difference.
Protect yourself from identity theft by…
– Closely monitoring your Social Security statements and credit reports
– Keeping your personal information out of public view (and social networks)
– Checking your credit card statements for errors and reporting them
– Protecting usernames and passwords
– Creating strong passwords and unique usernames for different websites
– Reacting quickly and appropriately to the warning signs
– Purchase identity theft insurance
If you find that your identity may have been compromised, contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit by calling 1 (800) 908-4490. If you feel that stolen information has (or may in the future) caused an error on your taxes, you can fill out tax form 14039, the Identity Theft Affidavit. Again, we can’t stress enough that the most important tool in your arsenal is preparation, because identity theft in California and across America is still a very real issue.
If the IRS has its way, though, it won’t be a problem for much longer. The IRS already supplies some of the most obvious warning signs that your identity has been stolen, but in 2013, they started a program to try to cut back the number of victims even further. By assigning identity theft victims a one-of-a-kind personal identification number (PIN), they can verify that each person is themselves to prevent scammers from pocketing their victim’s tax returns. Nearly 2 million of these PINs have been distributed to identity theft victims, and 1.2 million of those were distributed in 2014 alone by a newly-expanded team of workers specifically tasked with stopping identity theft. In addition to that, the IRS is limiting the number of tax returns that can arrive in someone’s bank account via direct-deposit in a given year. In 2015, for instance, after three returns are deposited into a single account, the fourth (and all returns that follow it) will be mailed in a paper check directly to the proper recipient. Due to the latest efforts by the IRS, 236,000 tax returns were deemed fraudulent last year, denying criminals a total of $1.2 billion in what would’ve been ill-gotten gains.
Again, the most important step you can take is to educate yourself on the risks of sharing your information, the warning signs of identity theft, and how to react if you suspect that your identity has been compromised. Luckily, all of that information lies within this article, so if you know someone who could use a crash course in keeping their identity safe, share this article with them! In an increasingly digital world, none of us can afford to lose our identities, so be prepared!
Have you made a chance recently to increase your security? What are some other ways that individuals can protect themselves from identity theft? Chime in with the comments section below and make your voice heard!