04 Aug Who has your number?
Identity theft is a rampant and a growing threat in our world today, and tax fraud from identity scammers is a particularly damaging crime. Criminals use stolen social security numbers to file falsified returns through the e-filing system generating audits, penalties, and legal action without the victims’ knowledge until it’s too late. The harm caused can be financially and emotionally crushing, and if it occurred months before, can leave the victims with a web of fines, fees, and interest to deal with.
The best way to protect yourself from tax fraud identity theft is to guard and restrict access to your social security number. Here are a few guidelines:
- Use an alternative form of ID – When asked to supply your social security number, instead provide your driver’s license, passport, proof of current address from a bill, or even a student ID, if available.
- Don’t carry it – You rarely need your social security card, so keep it safely filed at home instead of in your wallet or purse that can be lost or stolen.
- Don’t share it – Never provide your social security number over the phone, through unsolicited email, or in writing to someone who doesn’t know you. It is prudent to be absolutely sure of the requester’s identity before relinquishing personal information.
- Practice internet safety – Keep computer antivirus and antispyware programs up to date, don’t use simple passwords or even your social security number as your password, enroll in identity protection program, and never send your social security number in a text or email.