Identity Theft Can Prove Quite Taxing

Identity theft can tax your well being ... protect yourself against it.

Photo by CC user Brian Ronald on wikipedia.org

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;
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  • 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;
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  • 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?

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Don’t Let Identity Theft Fraud Cloud Your Life

Do you have enough to worry about in life?

If the answer to that question is yes, why then would you want to add the possibility of becoming an identity theft victim to that list of concerns?

Unfortunately, countless individuals find themselves becoming just that on a yearly basis.

Whether by pure fate or by putting themselves in a precarious situation to begin with, many people end up having their identity stolen over the Internet, leaving them scrambling to get it back.

With that being the case, what are you doing to protect your online identity?

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Educate Yourself on Online Safety

For starters, don’t leave yourself vulnerable whenever you go on the Internet, even if it is just for a minute or two to look something up or check your email.

As many identity theft victims have discovered in the past, it only takes that one slip-up to open the door up to trouble.

That said use these tips to better protect your online experiences:

  • Use commonsense – Your first line of defense against identity theft thieves is simply using commonsense. Cyber-criminals are hoping that you let your guard down even just for a minute, allowing them to swoop in and get the personal and/or financial data they need to cause you problems. When you go on the Internet each and every time, don’t do it in a hurried state of mind; that is generally when people make mistakes. Don’t download any attachments (see more below) appearing suspicious. Also make sure you do not share your log-in details with anyone outside your immediate family. Even then, family members are better suited having keeping their own log-in information to themselves;
  • Have a plan – What are you doing to protect your online time in the first place? By looking into identity theft protection plans, you can choose one that is best suited for your online needs. Whether you buy a provider’s standard plan or go with the best upgrade available, it is important to have one that all but eliminates the chances of an identity theft thief breaking through. When searching for the right plan provider for your needs, see not only what plans they offer, but how long they have been in business. Do they have a good track record of success versus failure? How good is their customer service outreach? Finally, do they offer deals and other rewards for current members when it comes time to renew a plan? With the right plan in place, you can feel better about your time spent on the Internet;
  • Test the system – So that you can be as sure as possible that you have a formidable firewall against identity theft thieves, test your system from time to time. Are you able to penetrate it? Do you recognize any cracks in the wall and/or weaknesses that an expert criminal could very well exploit? Keep in mind that online criminals are likely testing your site and hundreds and hundreds of others on a daily basis. Beat them to the punch by making sure your system is as impenetrable as possible;
  • The business of identity theft – Identity theft is bad for everyone (except of course the perpetrator of the crime). If you run a home business (or any business for that matter), having your business or personal data breached can lead to all kinds of trouble, especially from a financial standpoint. This is why it is important for business owners to protect the personal and financial data of all their customers. In the event there is a data breach, be sure to alert your customer/customers that you are working on rectifying the problem ASAP. The biggest mistake you can make is taking your time to address the problem. When you do that, the impacted customers may totally lose faith in your ability to guard their personal financial data.

Falling victim to identity theft can be something that has a negative impact on your finances for a long time to come.

While you may never feel 100 percent protected against online criminals, do everything possible to limit the options they have to breach you and your personal and/or business data.

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