According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Javelin Strategy & Research, an average of 7.5% of American households had some type of identity theft each year (as of April of 2015). http://www.statisticbrain.com/identity-theft-fraud-statistics/. Here are five tips to try to avoid being a part of this statistic:
- Tax Return Pin. One way these thieves are using stolen identities is by filing false tax returns. The thief files your income tax return and shows that you are owed a refund. The refund is directed to an account that does not belong to you. You have no idea anything has happened until you file your income tax return and the IRS rejects your tax return stating you already filed. Now you must prove to the IRS that you are really you.
If you live in Georgia, Florida or Washington, DC, you can avoid this scam by getting a PIN to file your tax return. http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection-PIN-Pilot-Program.
- Social Security Number Protection. You can also avoid identity theft by not carrying your social security number with you (in case your wallet or purse is stolen). Do not provide your social security number unless absolutely necessary. Your doctor's office, for instance, will request it, but this is unnecessary.
- Avoid Unknown Callers. Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. Many of the identity thieves will call and try to persuade you (very convincingly) to give them information about your bank, social security, birth date, etc. Do not give out that information.
- Passwords. Your passwords should include two capital letters as well as numbers, letters and symbols (@$% for instance). You should change your passwords monthly or at least quarterly.
- Credit Report. Pull your credit report each year for free by calling 1-877-322-8228 or online at www.annualcreditreport.com.
If someone steals your identity: (1) Call the police and file a report; (2) Call social security and notify them; (3) Hire a monitoring company to watch your credit; (4) Contact the credit companies and put a fraud alert on your credit; and (5) Contact http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft to report the theft to the FTC.
Securities offered through Triad Advisors, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Financial Innovations, LLC. Financial Innovations, LLC is not affiliated with Triad Advisors, Inc.
Laura K. Schilling, JD, CPA, CFP®, CSA
Financial Innovations, LLC
Laura Schilling isn’t your typical financial planner. She is also a world traveler who has been to Asia, Africa, Europe, and Israel. Laura is an active member in the community, a mother of two, and a champion for each of the working mothers she employs. As principal and founder of Financial Innovations, LLC, she staffs her firm with stay-at-home moms who work to meet the needs of their clients around the globe.
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