The IRS is continuing to ramp up it’s efforts against identity theft as it predicts an increase in cases of stolen identities and refund fraud for this tax season. With identity thieves becoming increasingly sophisticated and developing new ways of stealing personal information from innocent taxpayers, it’s important to be vigilant and proactive against any such attempts to steal your identity. Here are 8 practical ways to help protect yourself from identity theft.
- Don’t carry your social security card. Leave your social security card or any documents that include your social security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in a safe inside your home.
- Don’t give out your SSN or ITIN just because you’re asked for it. Only give out this information if it is required.
- Protect your financial information. Don’t give bank account details to someone you don’t know, protect your passwords and pin numbers and keep bank cards, checkbooks in a safe and secure place.
- Check your credit report at least every 12 months. You can do so for free through www.annualcreditreport.com
- Review your Social Security Administration earnings statement on an annual basis. You can do so through the Social Security website.
- Secure personal information in your home. Don’t leave important documents out. Secure them in a safe or locked area of your home.
- Protect personal computers using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software. Be sure you are keeping the software updated and are changing your passwords on a regular basis for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you initiated contact or know who you are contacting.