Last month I wrote about free Identity Protection. Any current customer with a Wilson Bank & Trust debit card can enroll today to get free ID protection through Mastercard.
In preparation for the upcoming tax season, and subsequent identity theft that will follow, the IRS has launched a new portal to assist in the fight against ID theft – Identity Theft Central.
Identity Theft Central is a website that has everything you need to assist in the cleanup of ID theft as well as prevent from becoming the next victim.
Why should you be concerned?
According to Identity Theft Central, “Tax-related identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit tax fraud. Your taxes can be affected if your Social Security number is used to file a fraudulent return or to claim a refund or credit.”
This could become problematic, especially when filing your taxes. You could find that your filing has been rejected as a duplicate, due to a cybercriminal already having filed a fictitious return on your behalf.
A wealth of information
The Identity Theft Central page has Information for individuals, tax professionals, and businesses.
A Taxpayer’s Guide to Identity Theft from the IRS is especially helpful at laying out the signs of identity theft and what to do if you as an individual are a victim of identity theft.
As a tax professional, you are charged with keeping your client’s information safe. You, your firm, and the clients who trust you depend on your actions. The IRS has done a great job at laying out, in a simple format, what you should do if you suspect a breach of information. Two very important alerts –
- Report it to your local stakeholder liaison
- Email the Federation of Tax Administrators at StateAlert@taxadmin.org
Keep expenses low, and increase revenue – two foundational principles for any successful business. Allow me to add a third: keep your and your customers’ information secure. Become familiar with the signs of identity theft and know when to report, and to whom. Additionally, take some easy basic steps to secure your businesses from attackers. Identity Theft Central and my blog cover this in detail. If you’re a business owner or manager, be sure to check out my posts on Small Business Cybersecurity Misconceptions and Top Online Take Action Tips!
How does the IRS combat identity theft?
Fighting back against fraud and identity theft can be both time consuming and challenging. Thankfully, the IRS has listed three resources it uses to fight back against identity theft.
- Security Summit – An easy read, a complete PDF detailing numerous agencies and contacts that help in the daily fight against Identity Theft.
- Report Phishing and Online Scams – If you take away nothing else, remember the IRS does not communicate with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. If you have received something you believe to be suspicious, report it through the Phishing and Online Scams resource.
- Videos and Security Awareness Training – Directly on the Identity Theft Central website, the IRS has provides videos and other FREE security awareness materials to use.
What will you do with this information? Consider making one small step, today, to move toward being more secure online. Remember, small steps add up to giant leaps of progress.
Have another thought, tip or suggestion? Leave it in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!