The tax period is over. While consumers are waiting for tax-related documents to be delivered to their mailboxes, the thieves are waiting, ready to catch. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tax identity theft is one of the best types of reported ID theft. With the help of stolen personal information, which is available on tax-related forms, identity thieves can file false tax returns and collect the refund.
Identity theft can have lasting, harmful effects. Here are some ways in which identity theft can cause damage:
- Insurance information can be stolen and used for medical services, leading to the insurance reaching maximum payout.
- A social security number can be used to open new credit accounts or apply for a loan and refuel the victim's credit score.
- Even worse, crimes can be committed with a stolen identity and leave the victim with a criminal record.
TIPS TO PREVENT BECOMES A KIND OF IDENTITY STYLE:
- Shred or tear up personal financial documents before disposing of them.
- Do not print personal identifiers such as your social security number, date of birth or driving license number on your checks.
- Use your social security number only when absolutely necessary.
- Only reveal information online when the site is securely protected (look for a yellow padlock symbol in the corner of the computer screen).
- Do not provide personal, financial or other identifying information to a telephone caller. Ask for the caller's name and phone number, and then verify that the caller is legitimate.
- Pay attention to your credit card billing cycles, as identity thieves can redirect bills to another address to hide criminal activity involving your accounts.
- Carefully review all monthly credit card statements and check if they are unauthorized.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report at least once a year to check for any errors.
- Minimize the number of cards and identifying information you have, especially your social security card and passport.
- Before revealing any information – online, by phone or in person – ask how it will be used.
During Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) will share tips like these and more to keep our members and consumers prepared.
Anyone with information about insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.
Blog courtesy of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
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