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Marcus Iwig

The statistics regarding tax-related identify theft are big – I would say shocking – but most of the public is now all too aware of how prevalent tax-related fraud is.  According to this Forbes article, the IRS paid out $5.8 million in fraudulent refunds in 2013 and, if I were a betting man, I would imagine that number will rise in the coming years.  With significant reductions in funding and staff at the IRS, consumers may find themselves looking for help if this happens to them.  On the IRS website, they recommend taking the following steps to help prevent this type of fraud:

·    Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card or any document with your SSN
on it.
·    Don’t give a business your SSN just because they ask – only when absolutely
necessary.
·    Protect your personal financial information at home and on your computer.
·    Check your credit report annually.
·    Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually.
·    Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software,
update security patches and change passwords for internet accounts.
·    Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or
the internet unless you have either initiated the contact or are sure you
know who is asking.

Should you become a victim, here are the steps the IRS recommends taking:

·    File a report with law enforcement.
·    File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at
www.identitytheft.gov or the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338
or TTY 1-866-653-4261.
·    Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on
your credit records:
o    Equifax – www.Equifax.com or 1-800-525-6285
o    Experian – www.Experian.com or 1-888-397-3742
o    TransUnion – www.TransUnion.com or 1-800-680-7289
·    Contact your financial institutions; close any accounts tempered with or
opened without your permission.
·    Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually.
You can create an account online at www.ssa.gov.
You can find additional information on how to protect yourself, and what to do if you become a victim, in the Taxpayer Guide to Identify Theft.

If this happens to you, make sure to contact Foster Group as well so we can help you take the appropriate steps to protect your investment accounts.

 


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