Pacific Wealth Management Insights: Taxes and Identity Theft
Soon after we settle into the beginning of another new year, preparation begins for tax season. One of our goals at Pacific Wealth Management, is to always keep our clients’ financial information safe and secure. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant in preventing tax-related identity theft during this high risk time of calendar year. In 2016, many Americans experienced firsthand a growing nationwide problem when they filed their tax returns, only to discover that someone else had already filed a fraudulent return using their Social Security Number. The IRS has amplified their efforts to reduce the frequency of this occurrence, but you can proactively take additional steps to minimize the likelihood you are similarly victimized.
Below are Pacific Wealth Management’s suggestions for some proactive steps you can take to help prevent tax-related identity theft in 2017:
Computer Security: Use firewalls, virus protection and file encryption for any sensitive financial data
Online Access: Update old passwords and use strong passwords (upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols) ESPECIALLY for financial websites
Personal Information: Take additional precautionary measures by encrypting any old tax returns or tax records you have stored electronically. Avoid carrying documents, including your social security card, which contain your Social Security Number.
Credit Report: Check at least once a year to monitor bank and credit card statements; sign up for identity theft monitoring services
While these measures may assist in preventing the filing of a fraudulent return, the best defense remains, as always, file your tax returns as early as possible.
Please keep in mind, with the IRS increasing their fraud prevention measures, you may experience a longer than normal delay in processing your return.
If you’ve been a victim of fraud in the past, be sure to use the Identity Protection PIN you were issued, as it provides further protection. Lastly, your tax preparer is usually your best resource during tax season, so be sure to take advantage of the resources they have available and the knowledge they can provide to keep your personal financial information secure.