We always make sure our house, car, and other valuables are locked up when we go away, but what about securing our personal information? Data found in 2017 studies shows that 22.6% of the 2.68 million reported cases of identity theft were related to employment or taxes. While it may not be possible to be fully protected from hackers and identity thieves, there are steps you can and should take to ensure that you are not an easy target for them.
To keep yourself and the rest of your family safe, here are a few tips for actions to take on a regular basis:
- Regularly review your bank account.
- Check your monthly credit card statements when they arrive.
- Take advantage of your free annual credit report.
Monitoring your accounts regularly will help you notice any unfamiliar transactions and will allow you to catch the theft before it gets out of control.
Other ways you can protect your and your family’s information include:
- Setting up antivirus, malware protection, and firewalls on your electronic devices and keeping them up-to-date.
- Using strong passwords for all of your accounts. It is also a good idea to update your passwords frequently.
- Being careful of what you post on your social media accounts.
- Shredding any sensitive paperwork before throwing it away.
Lastly, phishing scams are becoming more and more regular, and more people are falling victim to them daily. Here are a few things you should know to help avoid falling for these scams:
- Don’t open any email attachments if you don’t know the sender.
- The IRS always starts communication via the mail. They will not start it over email, the telephone, or text message.
- The IRS will never demand payment through a specific method. Many phishing scams ask for you to provide the money you owe to the IRS via a gift card, a prepaid debit card, or worse a wire transfer.
- The IRS will never ask for your credit card information over the phone. Review IRS.gov/payments for ways to pay anything you may owe.
If your information falls into the wrong hands, immediately contact your bank, talk to your CPA, and report the case to the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov. You can never tell where your information is in the infinite ocean of the online web, but you can take precautions against becoming a victim of identity theft!
Ryder & Company is located in West Lawn, PA and offers a variety of accounting services, part-time CFO services, payroll preparation, and much more! We also offer tax preparation for individuals, as well as businesses and nonprofit entities. We assist many individuals and businesses in and around Wyomissing, Exeter, and Reading.