Identity theft

About four years ago my husband and I filed our taxes electronically and were rejected but the IRS.  Confused I called the IRS to see what was going on and low and behold, someone had stolen our social security numbers and had filed taxes for us.  It took 11 months to get the money and the first two years had to send our taxes snail mail with copies of police reports and drivers licenses and then wait forever to get our returns.  Then the Target data breach and bank card information and reissues of our bank cards.  Frustrating to say the least when you work so hard to build your credit and your life for someone to just sweep in and change everything.  If that wasn’t bad enough, now is a GIANT data breach from Equifax…who is only one of the big boys in credit reporting…..Where our data should be at it’s safest.  Check out the full article here:  Equifax Data Breach Exposed.

We should all be diligent in protecting ourselves from this kind of thing.  So what can you do to ensure that you don’t become a victim?  Tech Republic wrote in an article way back in 2006 10 ways to protect your identity.  Here are the things that they listed that still ring true today:

  1. Shop only secure sites
  2. Protect your personal information (do you know what comes up when you google your name?)
  3. Use and protect pins and passwords that aren’t easily identifiable.
  4. Protect sensitive data on your computer.  Make sure you have updated virus protection and firewalls in place.
  5. Use an alternative identity for web surfing.
  6. Know how to identify Phishing Scams.
  7. Cash is King.  Use cash when you can and consider pre-loaded cash cards for online shopping.
  8. Remove your name from the marketing lists.
  9. Check you credit report often.
  10. Report any identity theft attempts.  Put fraud alerts on your accounts at the credit reporting agencies.

Here is my tip:  consider purchasing identity theft protection.  It’s easier to protect yourself than try to recover after the fact.  You can spend thousands of dollars trying to clear your name and credit after a theft in legal fees as well as paying off the debts that you didn’t initiate in the first place.