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Tax-Time Tips To Prevent Identity Theft

Armen Hareyan's picture

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a record 77 million tax returns were filed electronically in 2007 and these figures are sure to increase in 2008. For an identity thief, tax time is prime time.

Tax documents are a gold mine for hackers and thieves as they contain social security numbers, names, addresses, bank and other financial information. Over 8 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. The FTC recently reported that in 2007, the #1 category of complaint—32% of total complaints received—was identity theft. Consumers reported fraud losses totaling more than $1.2 billion, which was almost double that of 2005.

At tax time, perhaps more than any other time, it’s essential to be savvy about how to protect your identity. In November 2007, a thirty-five year old Seattle man pled guilty to accessing the home computers of victims and stealing their personal information specifically from tax returns and other personal documents.

The makers of Identity Finder (www.identityfinder.com) – unique software designed specifically to prevent online identity theft – here offer TAX-TIME TIPS TO PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT that can benefit every taxpayer.

How To Prevent Identity Theft

1. Password-protect all tax returns that you print to PDF from your tax software so your SSN is secure.

2. Configure all peer-to-peer file sharing programs to disable the sharing of your personal folders so identity thieves can't download your tax return.

3. Don't email tax documents to your accountant unless they are encrypted to prevent anyone snooping on your network from gaining access to your financial information.

4. If downloading your IRS W2 forms, 1099s, and other personal tax documents from your employer, make sure you create a strong password when registering to download them so it is not easily guessed by strangers.

5. If you receive an email purporting to be from the IRS that requires personal information to process your return, rebate, or refund, do not respond to it. The IRS does not contact you via email and this is more likely a phishing attack.

6. When you postal mail your tax return to the IRS, make sure it is mailed from a secured location like the post office or an official USPS collection box and do not let it sit in the box overnight as it could be stolen. For added security use certified mail.

7. If you receive an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS, do not give personal information over the phone. Hang up, and call the IRS directly.

8. If you owe taxes and pay electronically via the Internet, or are due a refund and elect to obtain it via direct-deposit, make sure that the websites you enter your account information into are secured.

9. Any unsecured documents containing personal information that you used to prepare your tax return should be permanently shredded from your computer. Any printed documents should be traditionally shredded.

10. If making photo copies of your financial documents, make sure the photocopier does not store images of them in memory.

11. Install the latest updates to your operating system so known Windows or Mac vulnerabilities can't be exploited by hackers.

12. Don't save your password in your web browser when accessing banks and other institutions that keep your personal information because it could be leaked if you ever get a virus, Trojan, or are hacked.

About Identity Finder

The Identity Finder software searches through electronic data such as documents, spreadsheets, e-mails, instant messenger logs, web browsers, and the most hidden system areas of computers for personal details - such as social security numbers, passwords, credit card details and bank account numbers. Most importantly, Identity Finder helps users securely shred or encrypt the data. It is available in Home, Professional and Enterprise editions.

Identity Finder is a division of Velosecure LLC, a leading niche innovator of security and privacy technologies. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in New York City, the company specializes in developing software solutions that meet business and consumer needs. The company's technologies have been used by thousands of organizations in more than 40 countries. The management team is a thought leader in the industry. They are well-published and have consulted with hundreds of businesses to help manage information technology risks.

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