Archive for Security

Worried about Tax Return Identity Theft?

Tax-Identity-FraudIf you’re not, you should be. Filing fraudulent tax refunds with stolen identity information is one of the fastest growing areas of identity theft.

Here’s how it works:

Scammers steal your ID info, including your social security number, and then file a fraudulent tax return in your name. They get the refund & disappear with it.

You usually don’t find out until you file your own tax return or are notified by the IRS that you’ve been a victim.

Then you are stuck sorting the whole mess out.

Once you’ve been victimized, the IRS assigns you a PIN number to put on all future tax returns so that you are clearly identified. This should help prevent it from happening again.

Florida, Georgia & the District of Columbia residents seem particularly at risk for this type of identity fraud, so the IRS has a new program to help prevent it.

If you filed a tax return from one of those locations last year, you’re eligible to get a PIN number to help identify you when filing your return this year. It’s a proactive way to tell the IRS that it is really your tax return, not a fake.

Get more information on this program at


Bank Account Cyber Theft

Every week there seems to be a new hacking story in the press. Banks and financial institutions are obviously a huge target for thieves and we all need to know what protection we have if our business or personal bank accounts are hacked.

We worry about losing passwords or laptops, protect our data with online backups, try to avoid phishing schemes, and protect against viruses and other electronic threats to our business. But when it comes to banking, we may all have a false sense of security about how limited our losses will be in the event our bank account is hacked.

What’s the Risk to Your Finances?

The possible loss of your money. If your bank account is emptied by cyber thieves, how do you pay yourself, your employees or your suppliers? Your bank controls the security on your account – will it stand behind you and reimburse your money? And, if so, how long will that take?

If a thief hacks your account and withdraws your funds, what protection do you have? If you don’t know, you need to find out. There isn’t any single answer to this. Each bank has its own set of policies about cyber theft, so the answer can vary from having no protection to complete protection.

Manage the Cyber Theft Risk

When choosing a bank, we all evaluate the services offered, costs, bells & whistles, etc. Most of us don’t ask about the bank’s liability for any cyber theft losses. So if you don’t already know the answer, now might be a good time to check on what your bank’s polices are around financial losses due to cyber theft. And, while you’re at it, check your insurance coverage to see if losses due to electronic theft are covered.

That small print in bank account applications can hide all sorts of surprises. Don’t be caught short.


Children’s Identity Theft

OK, so you do all the right things to protect yourself from identity theft: secure your passwords; check your credit report annually; shred all your documents; don’t click on links in unknown emails; use a good firewall on your computer, etc., etc., etc.

And guess who has their identity stolen? Your son or daughter.

Children’s Identity Theft is On the Rise

Children now receive social security numbers shortly after birth, but they don’t generally apply for credit for another 18 years or so. And they share their lives online as they grow older. It’s a situation that’s ripe for identity theft.

So while you are checking your credit report annually, make sure to check  your children’s reports as well. You may be unpleasantly surprised to find out your children have credit cards and maybe even a mortgage that neither they nor you know anything about.

If you find out there is a problem:

  • contact each of the credit reporting companies (Equifax, TransUnion & Experian) to place a fraud alert on the account
  • file a fraud report with the FTC
  • consider placing a credit freeze on your child’s credit reporting accounts

Identity theft is rampant. It’s happened to millions of people & is even causing billion dollar fraud losses at the IRS. Be defensive and help your kids to understand how to be defensive too. Many people don’t find out about this identity theft until they apply for a first job or car loan or college aid.