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ARE YOU A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT?

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Much has been written about all of the problems the IRS has had with identity theft (“IDT”), but IDT goes well beyond the IRS. The news are filled with stories of people who have had their credit cards compromised at restaurants and retail stores. Some have had their credit card information compromised when they have been on vacation and their guard is down. Many have also had problems when solicited over the telephone or by email and were not aware these were scams to obtain personal information.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, this was the top complaint received for the past 15 years increasing 47% from 2014 to 2015 and is clearly one of the fastest growing crimes. What is staggering that according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 92% of the victims did not report the crime to the police. From a tax return perspective, in 2015, the IRS reported that over 724,000 identities were stolen.

IDT does not just impact your pocket book. It generally takes a long time to clear the problem up – sometimes even several years.

The following are a few things that need to be done immediately:

  1. Report the crime to your local police office.
  2. Create a file to keep everything related to your IDT in it – documents, records of conversations, etc.
  3. Close any accounts that have suspicious activity
  4. Contact your credit bureaus and check your credit scores regularly
  5. Change all of your passwords

These are just a few of the things you need to do. For a more detailed checklist, please contact us for our free IDT aid.

Adopted from 8/9/16 Journal of Accountancy


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