Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft


Tricking consumers into disclosing their personal and financial information such as credit card or bank account numbers is identity theft.  Such schemes utilizing the Internet are called “phishing” for information.  The IRS has set up a special division just to deal with this issue. 

In addition, the IRS wants us to know that they do not send out unsolicited e-mails or ask for detailed personal information via the Internet.  Additionally, the IRS does not ask people for access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.  If you should receive an email such as this, the IRS would like to hear from you.  Please contact them at phishing@irs.gov or by calling 1-1-800-366-4484.

Protect yourself against identity theft while ensuring good credit by logging on to annualcreditreport.com once a year to get a free credit report from all three major credit reporters.  The on-line application will ask you for basic personal information and also to verify recent or current loan sources and payment amounts via multiple choice.  Be prepared to know your mortgage company and or your car loan provider and the monthly payment amount.  This question & answer application ensures the application is in fact you before it provides the information you are requesting.

Review the report to ensure each of the accounts is actually something you initiated.  If not, you need to contact that creditor.  The phone numbers are listed on the report.  Also, close out any accounts that you rarely or never use.  This could hurt you when you go for a loan.  If a creditor sees that you have too much credit available, they could deny you the money you are looking for. 

There have also been reports of identity theft thru filing fraudulent tax returns.  Even if you do not need to file a return it may still be a good idea to do so just to keep your SSN active and to help identify if you have been a victim of identity theft.

 

 

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