DENVER, Feb. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Tax-time identity theft now poses a serious threat to your financial reputation, according to Tom Feige, ceo of Denver-based idRADAR, which provides data security for both individuals and corporations And tax-related identity theft is on the rise, he says.
Tax-related identity theft affects individuals in a variety of ways, Feige says. Criminals can obtain a refund by using your social security number and can also gain employment by using your information.
idRadar offers these tips to minimize your chances of being affected by this growing crime:
1. Choose a security-minded tax preparer. Your greatest risk of identity theft during tax season comes from a surprising source: a dishonest or disorganized tax preparer. Check out your tax preparer thoroughly, online an in-person. Visit their office, and ask about privacy policies and procedures and if client files are well protected.
2. Secure your computers and copy machines from hackers. Install anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware software, with automatic updates. Failure to do this allows malware attached to malicious emails, social media platforms and rogue websites to penetrate your entire system, giving thieves access to every computer on your network. Also, make sure you choose strong passwords and have password protection software installed. Don't email sensitive tax data unless it is encrypted. Consider erasing your copy machine's hard drive, as it maintains a digital record of every document you scan or copy. Criminals often access these when you repair the machine.
3. Stop falling for IRS and tax-related scams. Be on your guard. When someone asks for your SSN, TIN or other ID, refuse until you verify their legitimacy. If someone promises to drastically reduce your tax bill or speed up your tax return, suspect fraud. If anyone asks you for information to send your check, they are scamming for your identity. The IRS already knows where you live and where to send your refund. Know that the IRS will NEVER email you for any reason. If you do get caught in a tax-related identity theft scam, make sure you subscribe to a sophisticated privacy and identity theft monitoring software to help you recover.
4. Use Common Sense in All Communications. Take a few minutes to defend yourself against common sources of ID theft. Pay your taxes with checks that can't be easily washed, altered or counterfeited. Mail safely. Tax documents are easy to spot and commonly stolen out of the mail. Send your tax return by certified mail so that you know it has arrived safely and is transported with greater care. Consider filing electronically so you remove mail theft from the equation. Shred all tax-related documents that you no longer need.
5. Call the IRS right away if you suspect an ID Theft problem, If you think you are a victim of tax-time identity theft, contact the IRS's Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, ext 245. Or, call the IRS's Taxpayer Advocate Service at 877-777-4778.
"It is your responsibility to protect not only your own tax-related information, but also the sensitive data you handle on behalf of your business, employees and customers if you work in a job that requires you to handle such data. Start taking these preventative steps now," says Feige.
Denver-based idRADAR, founded in March 2012, provides security solutions for individuals and corporations that protect and monitor identity data, credit information, internet use and digital communications. Contact the company at www.idradar.com or call 888-949-4245
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Contact: Lou Grossman, 215-630-6964, Email