Love is in the air this weekend, as some of us celebrate Valentine’s Day! But there’s also something nefarious going on when it comes to your identity. Thieves are on the prowl and finding new ways to target your identity. They are targeting tax returns, medical paperwork, credit card statements and even your child’s ID. So, as tax season approaches, we want to remind you how important it is to protect yourself from becoming a target. Here are some tips for preventing identity theft:
- MONITOR BILLS – All Brigade Bookkeeping clients know that we monitor their billing cycles and identify any unusual activity immediately. If you have an in-house bookkeeper or do your own bills, make sure you don’t just skim your financial statements, but really review them line-by-line for errors or theft.
- PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER & SOFTWARE – The IRS is warning Americans that thieves are targeting computer users via e-mail.
Don’t open e-mails from unknown sources. Never share personal information, like your social security number, date of birth or bank account number, by e-mail or phone. You should also take steps to install virus detection software and do a monthly check of your firewall’s security.
- CREATE UNIQUE PASSWORDS – One of the ways thieves target victims is by hacking or figuring out their password. Avoid passwords like 123456. Make sure your password is a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
- BEWARE OF SHOULDER SURFERS – Just like when you’re taking money out of an ATM, make sure to cover your phone or keyboard when you’re out and about. Shoulder surfers are thieves who prowl smartphone or laptop users to steal personal information.
- CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE – The best way to know if you’re a victim of identity theft is to order your credit report at least once a year. It’s free at least once a year. However, if you suspect fraud, then order and review your credit score more often.
If you’re lucky enough to have both Valentine’s Day and President’s Day off, then take a few minutes to follow the advice above to protect your identity. If you need help monitoring your bills or with your monthly bookkeeping, please e-mail me or anyone on the Brigade Bookkeeping team. You owe it to yourself; after all, there’s only one of you, or at least there should be!