Identity Theft Prevention

Protect Yourself & Your Family Against Identity Theft

Take active steps to protect your personal and financial data online and at home. Use security software to protect computers. This includes a firewall and anti-virus protection. If tax returns or sensitive data are stored on the computers, encrypt the files. Use strong passwords.

Beware of phishing emails and phone scams. A common way for identity thieves to steal names and Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card numbers or bank account information is to simply ask for it. Clever criminals pose as trusted organizations that you recognize and send spam emails, calls or texts. Their email may ask you to update a bank account or tax software account and provide a link to a fake web site that is designed solely to steal your login information. They may call posing as the IRS, threatening you with jail or lawsuits unless you make an immediate payment. They may provide an attachment which, if you download, will infect your machine and enable the thief to access sensitive files or track your key strokes.

Protect personal information. Do not routinely carry your Social Security number. Properly dispose of old tax returns and other sensitive documents by shredding before trashing. Check your credit reports and Social Security Administration accounts at least annually to ensure no one is using your good credit or using your SSN for employment. Over-sharing on social media also gives identity thieves even more personal details.