ID Theft and the IRS

Believe it or not, the IRS is very concerned about identity theft and how it relates to taxpayers (yes, that’s all of us).  They’ve even published some tips to help individuals avoid being victims of ID theft here.

Among their tips:

  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
  • Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
  • Protect your financial information.
  • Check your credit report every 12 months.
  • Secure personal information in your home.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

Having been a victim of ID theft myself, I can say for certain that even if you are obsessive about protecting your information and paranoid that everyone is out to steal your identity it can still happen to you.  My story is that when my wife decided to go to law school she needed a laptop.  She had always been a ‘Mac’ person, but the school’s software only worked with Windows, so it was off in search of a laptop for her.  We found one she liked at a national electronics chain (I won’t say which one, but they claim to have the BEST prices) and we agreed to open a charge account there since it would save us some decent cash over not opening it.  So I gave the nice 18 year old behind the counter my application with all my personal information on it and we left, planning to return once the credit was approved to finalize the purchase.  While meandering about another electronics store (one with a name similar to a grocery store in the Valley) we found an even better laptop for even less (yes, LESS money than the store with the BEST prices, and cute price tag in their logo).  We called the original store and explained that we changed our mind about buying the computer, and that we would appreciate it if they destroyed our application.  Apparently their idea of ‘destroying’ the application was to post it on their wall, because within two months I received a letter from Sears congratulating me on my new credit card (I did NOT apply for a Sears credit card – not that I have anything against Sears – good tools, great warranty – just didn’t open a charge there).  Long story short, someone made off with over $25,000 in merchandise from Sears, Home Depot and Lowes, because someone didn’t properly destroy my personal information.  Question: how sure are YOU that your tax professional is properly destroying YOUR personal information?

At Brady’s Tax Service, we REALLY understand how important it is to protect your personal information, and we give you back ALL your documents – all we keep are digital copies – stored on an encrypted hard drive – on a closed, hard wired network.  We protect yourinformation as if it were our information, because we understand how terrible it is to have your identity stolen.