This time of year, we are meeting with the majority of our clients. As we meet to discuss taxes, it seems that everyone has a story to tell. Unfortunately, identity theft is a common theme in these stories. It’s happened to our clients and their acquaintances more regularly than we’d like to admit.
Identify theft occurs when someone uses another person’s personal information, such as a name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, in order to commit fraud or other crimes. We all like to believe that it won’t happen to us, but it will definitely happen to some of us. So we all must take precautions.
Thieves usually obtain personal information by stealing mail or wallets, rummaging through trash, hacking into computers, stealing personnel records or bribing employees who have access to company records. Thieves use the personal information obtained to run up debt, to open credit cards and bank accounts, and sometimes even to obtain loans.
Follow these tips to lessen your risk of identity theft:
- Memorize all passwords and PIN numbers;
- Shred all credit card applications received in the mail;
- Remove all mail from your mailbox daily;
- Never leave ATM, debit card, credit card or gas receipts behind; and
- Use a secure web browser, and never a public computer, to conduct financial transactions.
It is important to take immediate action if you suspect you are a victim. It takes lots of time and money to undo the damage done by identity thieves; but the earlier you act, the more you can limit your liability and the extent of damages. If you believe you are a victim, you can place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports, close accounts that you believe have been tampered with and, most importantly, contact your local authorities immediately for help.
Ohio Identity Theft Help
Taking back control of your identity can be an uphill battle; people who have their identity stolen spend months or even years cleaning up the mess. It’s a long and difficult process, but you don’t have to go through it along. If you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, contact Rea & Associates. Our Ohio accountants can help you to put your financial house back in order.
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.