Happy New Year to all our customers and associates! We hope you’ve had a stress-free, relaxing Holiday Season. To ensure a prosperous beginning to the new year at HTG, we prepare and remind ourselves, our customers and partners of the potential security threats typically heightened at this time of year. For instance, now is the time fraudsters spring into action and begin filing false tax returns.
If your data was exposed in the Equifax data breach there is a chance your Social Security Number is out there. That means an identity thief can easily file a false tax return in your name. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen SSN# to file a tax return claim to obtain a fraudulent refund. You may be unaware until you file your legitimate tax return.
To reduce your risk:
- Always use secure software with firewall and anti-virus protection. Also, strong passwords actually matter and make a huge difference in risk assessment.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls, and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card company and even the IRS.
- Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Protect your personal data. Never give out your SSN# unless absolutely required and always ask how the data will be used, stored and/or destroyed.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card and make sure your prior tax information is secure.
Remember the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
If you believe you have been a victim the Federal Trade Commission recommends these steps:
- File a complaint with the FTC athttps://www.identitytheft.gov/
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit records.
- Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 800-525-6285
- Experian, www.Experian.com, 888-397-3742
- TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 800-680-7289
We wish you a prosperous and fraud-free 2018 and don’t forget to contact HTG for all your 2018 security needs.