Lessons Learned from Tax Identity Theft Week

Mar 19, 2024

Scam Warning word cloud on black background2024’s Tax Identity Theft Week, observed between January 29th and February 2nd, served as a timely reminder of the ongoing threat of tax identity theft. While the designated week has passed, the reality that tax identity thieves are active year-round remains. With businesses finalizing their financial year-end and individuals preparing to submit annual tax returns, it’s crucial to reflect on the valuable lessons learned during Tax Identity Theft Week to better protect ourselves from potential threats.

1. Tax Identity Theft Affects Everyone

The unfortunate truth is that no one is immune to the risk of identity theft. However, by being proactive and implementing deterrents, you can reduce the likelihood of becoming a target:

  • Regularly check your credit report for errors or unusual accounts.
  • Avoid carrying your Social Security Card unless necessary.
  • Educate yourself on identifying phishing emails and suspicious calls, especially those posing as legitimate organizations. Remember, the IRS will never initiate contact via email, text, or social media.

2. Stay One Step Ahead

Being proactive is key to avoiding falling victim to identity thieves. Follow these steps to stay ahead:

  • Routinely update your passwords and avoid using the same password across multiple accounts.
  • Choose strong passwords with a minimum of 16 characters, combining numbers, letters, and symbols. Consider using a password manager for added security.
  • Always use security software, including a firewall and antivirus protection, when filing your tax return.

3. Adopt a “Shred Everything” Policy

Dispose of sensitive documents responsibly to thwart potential thieves:

  • Shredding is the most secure way to destroy documents. Opt for a NAID AAA Certified shredding company to ensure compliance and security.
  • Avoid simply crumpling or tearing up papers, as these methods provide inadequate protection.
  • Burning documents in your fireplace is inefficient, often does not burn documents completely, and poses a fire risk.

4. Freeze Your Credit Account

If you suspect your tax information may have been compromised, take immediate action by freezing your credit account. This blocks unauthorized accounts from being initiated, and you can unfreeze the account when necessary.

5. Heed Advice from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC provides additional recommendations to fortify your defenses against tax identity theft:

  • Safeguard your Social Security Number year-round, sharing it only when necessary and with trusted individuals.
  • File your tax return promptly to reduce the window of opportunity for identity thieves.
  • Use a secure internet connection for electronic filing or mail your return directly from the post office.
  • If you use a tax preparer, research thoroughly to avoid scams and complications.
  • Regularly check your credit report for unfamiliar activity at annualcreditreport.com.

One weak link in tax identity theft is the mishandling of documents containing sensitive information. ShredPro Secure offers a reliable solution to this problem, providing NAID AAA Certified shredding for all document sizes. Our on-site shredding trucks ensure the secure destruction of your information. To fortify your defense against tax identity theft, contact us at 865-986-5444 or complete the form on this page.

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