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With identity theft a noticeable problem on many fronts these days, what exactly are you doing to protect yourself and/or your business?
It should not come as a major surprise that tax season is one of the biggest targets for identity theft thieves.
Stop for a moment and think about all the financial information that is sitting around out there when consumers and/or business owners are compiling their tax information. For identity theft thieves, this can seem like Christmas morning, with oh so many gifts to open up.
That said there are means by which consumers and business owners can protect their personal and financial well-being online and when not using the Internet.
Thieves Want to Tax Your Well-Being
When was the last time you did a full review of how you protect yourself both online and off when it comes to your finances?
With tax related identity theft a growing problem, it is important that you not give identity theft thieves an open pass to your personal information.
Among the ways to go about this:
- Protecting your Social Security number – Never for a second think about giving out your SSN unless it is required for an official document or other matter that you fully trust. There are times when you may be asked to provide your SSN, but make sure you can verify those times. If an identity theft thief gets ahold of your number, he or she can use it to tap into your financial and personal life, setting off a chain of negative events;
- Protecting your bank account/s details – Whether you have just one bank account or multiple ones, keeping that information locked up (so only you and your significant other have access to it) is imperative. Along with keeping it safe online, avoid accidentally (or sometimes purposefully) giving it out over the phone (unless you can 100 percent verify the requesting source) or leave it sitting around in public. Identity theft thieves just need the slightest of gaffes on your part to strike, a strike that could leave your finances in peril. One such example is when you go to the bank to conduct financial transactions. If you fill out a deposit slip for instance, don’t leave it unattended for a minute or two. Also avoid having it in plain sight of others who could copy your account information down in a matter of seconds. Practicing extra caution is worth the time, especially given the alternative of having the information swiped from you;
- Protecting your credit cards – Even though more consumers are going to debit cards and using mobile devices to pay for items, the credit card industry is still huge. As a result, identity theft thieves know it is a lucrative gold mine for them when they gather one’s credit card information. Along with never giving out your card information (unless for legitimate purposes), be careful not to leave your card unattended for even a minute. Per example, you go to a public setting (library, coffee shop etc.) and use a computer to order and charge an item. Perhaps you want a copy of the transaction, so you step away briefly from your computer to print out the receipt. While at the printer retrieving your receipt, and identity theft thief sitting next to you at your computer glances over and copies your credit card information down. If this happens to you, you could be opening the door to a world of trouble. Also be careful not to leave credit card receipts sitting around at restaurants or other facilities where you may charge something. Lastly, be sure to shred any credit card receipts once you no longer need them in checking your financial records.
Today’s digital world offers so many opportunities to make your financial life easier.
That said it also provides identity theft thieves with an open invitation to cause trouble in your financial world.
While taking a few extra minutes to err on the side of caution may seem time-consuming, it is well worth it.
Remember, the identity theft thief can be patient in waiting for you and others to make a mistake.
The question then becomes, will you make that mistake or will you outwit the bad guys?