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Insights from Tax Identity Theft Week
In my teenage years, having my bike stolen taught me a couple of valuable lessons. While locking it up did keep it secure most of the time, a single instance of negligence allowed it to be stolen. Additionally, determined thieves would go to great lengths to get what they wanted, even cutting locks or finding alternative ways to access secured areas. The parallels between bike theft and tax identity theft are striking: both involve clever criminals waiting for a moment of vulnerability. Here’s why you don’t have to be an easy target and what you can learn from Tax Identity Theft Week.
Understanding Tax Identity Theft
Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number (SSN) to file a fraudulent tax return, claiming your refund. Alternatively, they may use your personal information to open accounts in your name. Another form of fraud involves IRS imposters posing as officials, attempting to coerce immediate payment through prepaid debit cards or gift cards, often accompanied by threats of arrest.
Similar to the unpredictability of bike theft, tax identity theft can happen to anyone. However, there are proactive steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of falling victim to such crimes.
Tax Identity Theft Week Insights
Held from January 29 to February 2, 2024, Tax Identity Theft Week was implemented to remind citizens and business owners of the prevalent threat and offered insights on self-protection. This article aims to extend the lessons learned during that week, urging individuals to assess their vulnerability and share observations and recommendations with their colleagues.
Protect Your Tax Identity
- Safeguard Your Social Security Number (SSN): Keep your SSN secure throughout the year. Avoid carrying it with you and share it only with confirmed entities.
- Timely Tax Return Submission: File your tax return promptly to reduce the window for fraudulent returns to be filed in your name.
- Secure Internet Connection: If filing electronically, secure your internet connection. If not possible, consider sending your return via traditional mail.
- Choose a Trusted Tax Preparer: If using a tax preparer, opt for a reputable company or individual after thorough research.
- Annual Free Credit Report: Legally, you are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- Secure Document Destruction: Destroy all paper containing personal identifiable information before disposal, preferably by using a reputable shredding company.
The Role of a Shredding Company
You might wonder why engaging a shredding company is crucial in the fight against tax identity theft. Here are compelling reasons:
- Value of Every Piece of Information: Thieves actively scour trash bins for discarded documents. Adopt a shred-all policy to ensure every piece of paper is shredded, preventing oversight of valuable information.
- Effectiveness of Professional Shredding: In-house shredders may leave shredded paper vulnerable to reconstruction. Professional shredding companies guarantee complete destruction in compliance with privacy laws.
- On-site or Off-site Shredding: Shredding companies can perform the task on-site or take materials to their facility, ensuring comprehensive protection. Furthermore, the shredded material is recycled, promoting environmental responsibility.
Records Management Center (RMC) offers shredding services to protect against tax identity theft by securely destroying all paper. From locked shred collection containers to on-site or off-site shredding, RMC ensures the safeguarding of your information. Contact us at 706-724-7982 or complete the form on this page to strengthen your defense against tax identity theft.