Stop Identity Theft! As a Southern California tax law firm that deals with the IRS on a daily basis, we’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects of what can happen to unsuspecting people who are the victims of identity theft. It can take months and sometimes years to repair the damage done by thieves. We counsel people every day at our law offices in San Diego, and Orange Country.
The best protection approach in this day and age is two-pronged–protect your confidential data as much as possible but also realize that your information may have already been compromised so you need to make it as unusable as possible.
In part two of this series, here are eight more ways to protect your identity and make what’s already out there unusable. To read part one, click here.
1. The IRS has said it’s been flagging the tax accounts of identity theft victims but one way to stop thieves is to file your tax returns as soon as possible. If you owe money you can still file early but you still have until April 15th to pay. By filing as early as possible you can prevent somebody from filing a false return in your name.
2. Put every type of protection you can on your financial accounts. If you can use two passwords, do it. If you can require codes to be sent to your phone in order for you to log in, do it. Request email or text alerts for purchases or bank account withdrawals or changes to your contact information. It may be a bit of an inconvenience but it’s worth the extra effort.
3. Check your credit reports regularly. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Or you can fill out a paper request and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5281. You’ll be asked to provide your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth and which bureau you want a report from (Equifax, TransUnion or Experian). Best advice: Order a credit report from one of the bureaus every four months.
4. Make sure that companies you do business with have all of your current contact information in their files.
5. Monitor your statements for bank accounts, credit cards, investments, etc., more carefully than ever.
6. Create a separate email address to give to retailers or social media sites. If you use your primary email for important business like your banking and investing and another email for retailers, there will be an immediate red flag if you get an email that looks like it’s from your bank but it arrives in your other email account.
7. If you have a PO Box or a work mailing address that you can give out to retailers or entities that you think might sell your information, do that. A fraudulent letter arriving at your office would trigger suspicion, but it might not as quickly at home.
8. The alternative to using a separate mailing address: If you have rewards cards or order products for pickup from stores, give the store a different (incorrect) spelling of your name or throw in an incorrect middle name. That way if you get an email or letter with incorrect information, it might catch your eye.
The identity theft problem is not going to go away anytime soon. It’s important to take every measure possible to protect your sensitive data–or pay the price.
RJS LAW, Southern California’s finest tax law firm, specializes in all areas of civil tax controversy and criminal tax defense. Founded by CEO and principal attorney Ronson J. Shamoun in 2003. If you or someone you know ever needs a dedicated team of tax attorneys who will solve your tax problems with compassion, RJS LAW is the firm for you.
We vigorously protect and fiercely fight for our clients in front of the Internal Revenue Service, Franchise Tax Board, Employment Development Department, and State Board of Equalization.