The recent IRS security breach it shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the IRS has paid out $5.8 Billion in fraudulent refunds from 2011 through 2014. Yes, you read that correctly, Billion with a “B.”
So how could this happen? You would think the government of all organizations would have enough security to keep our personal information private. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. Hackers used the IRS’s own website in attempt to steal taxpayer information for around 200,000 households, about 100,000 of which were actually affected. The thieves used stolen data to get past verification questions on the IRS website, giving them access to old tax transcripts. They then filed for fraudulent refunds.
If You Were Affected, You Will be Notified
The IRS will be sending out mail to all 200,000 accounts. If your account was affected, you will know. The IRS WILL NOT be asking for any personal information from you. If you receive any letter, email, phone call, or anything asking for your personal information, it is most likely from a con artist. Conmen strive on these types of situations, so don’t divulge any of your personal information to anyone! If you do believe you had fallen victim to this breach, or any other form of identity theft, read on below.
Ways to Protect Your Identity:
While the IRS is offering free credit monitoring to all who may have been affected, there is a good chance your identity has already been stolen. If you have fallen victim to any sort of identity theft, credit monitoring is a necessity.
Credit monitoring will notify you if someone attempts to open an account in your name. This way you can contact the accounts and immediately clear things up. The quicker you act on fraudulent activity, the better chance you have to bounce back from it.
(If you are interested in credit monitoring, Better Qualified is offering 3 months free through SmartCredit. Just click here.)
One of the best ways to protect your credit is to call the bureaus and ask to have a security freeze put on the report. The security freeze will halt your account from being pulled when applying for credit, making it harder for thieves to open lines of credit in your name.
Security freezes cost anywhere from $0-$10 depending which state you live in. Most states will offer free security freezes for those who fell victim to ID theft.
I know what you’re thinking, “How will I be able to access my own report if I have a security freeze on it?” If you need to pull your report for an application or service, all you would need to do is call up the bureaus and get the freeze temporarily lifted or give access to certain businesses that will allow your credit to be pulled.
If you don’t want to put a security freeze on your report, you may place a fraud alert on your credit report. Fraud alerts are similar to security freezes. Fraud alerts are free and will give you a free credit report. Fraud alerts will remain on your report for 90 days (you can always renew it once the 90s days is up.) When you have a fraud alert on your report, a business must verify your ID before issuing credit. This will force the business to contact you and make it harder for the thief to open a new account.
To place a fraud alert on your report, just simply call one of the 3 credit bureaus and tell them you wish to do so. By law, they must contact the other 2 bureaus and let them know you have placed a fraud alert on your account. Although the fraud alert is free, you will have to provide proof of your identity.
Don’t Assume Your Credit Report is Fine
When was the last time you checked your credit? Do you currently have a credit monitoring service? One out of four Americans have incorrect information and accounts on their report. Hire an IRS audit accountant to make sure your account is reporting correctly.
Credit reports can be hard to read. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, have a credit expert look for red flags in your report. The consultation is free. Just fill out the form below.