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  • Writer's pictureStephen Griffin

8 Steps to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Personal Financial Fraud

Identity theft can happen to anyone—and in 2023, it certainly did. The IRS flagged more than 1 million tax returns as potentially filed by personal identity thieves by early March 2023, noted by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

These numbers might sound alarming—and with good reason. Total fraud and identity theft cases have nearly tripled over the last decade. With the rise of technology, theft methods are becoming more sophisticated over time. Scammers frequently take advantage of phone communications, misplaced data, and weak passwords to efficiently gain access to confidential information.

The IRS is stepping up its security measures—and you should, too. Unfortunately, many taxpayers may not realize they are the victim of tax-related identity theft until they attempt to file a return. Instead, act now—find out the preventative measures that you should be taking to protect your personal information.

  1. Request an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) directly from the IRS. An IP PIN is a six-digit number that prevents identity thieves from filing a tax return using your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. To get an IP PIN, you must pass an identity verification process. Note that spouses and dependents are also available for IP PINs. Find out more and get an IP PIN here.

  2. File a tax return early in the season.

  3. Limit the personal information that you carry. Keep financial records, Social Security cards, and credit cards in a safe place at home or at work.

  4. Keep phone and internet conversations brief. Don’t share any personal, financial, or health plan information unless you trust the requestor and you initiated the contact.

  5. Do not use a debit card when shopping online. Debit cards link directly to your checking account and leave your funds at risk.

  6. Retrieve your mail as soon as possible and invest in a secure mailbox.

  7. Shred all receipts, credit offers, loan and credit applications, insurance forms, and bank statements when you no longer need them.

  8. Be diligent about online security. Online security measures like digital passwords and multi-factor authentication are crucial to protecting your information. You should also be wary of opening any suspicious links or attachments.

My Identity Was Stolen. What Now?

The preventative measures above can greatly mitigate your risk—but even the most careful taxpayer has a chance of falling victim to identity theft. Here’s what to do if your identity is stolen: If your e-file return is rejected due to a duplicate filing using your Social Security number, fill out an IRS Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit).

  • Respond to any IRS notice promptly.

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Notify companies of your stolen identity.

  • Freeze your credit or sign up for a credit monitoring service.

  • Check your bank statements and credit cards for any unauthorized charges.

  • Close any financial or credit accounts opened by identity thieves.

Questions? We Can Help.

Identity theft can be overwhelming. If you need assistance with preventative measures or need help navigating a stolen identity, speak with a member of our team today. Call 985-727-9924.


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