YOUR Information First
March 2007 / issue #4

In this issue:

Timely Tips
Feature Article
Latest ID Theft News
Scam Central
More Resources

TIMELY TIPS 

Protect your identity this tax season

In today’s world, death and taxes are not the only things you can be certain of. This tax season, you can be sure that thieves will be looking for the right opportunity to steal your personal information to commit fraud and other crimes over the next couple of months.  

Here’s how to keep your information safe before and after April 17th:

1. Know your tax preparers: only use tax preparers who are established and in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Additionally if you suspect a company is a security risk, take your business elsewhere.  

2. Properly destroy and secure your documents:  Run all the receipts, paperwork and the various forms you need to calculate your taxes through a good, cross-cut shredder and store your tax forms in a safe place.

3. Safeguard your computer: ensure you computer is protected with a firewall or antivirus software before preparing your taxes on your computer or through the internet.

4. Prevent mail theft: If you file your taxes through the mail, take your documents directly to the post office instead of placing them in an unsecured drop box or outbound box at work. 

 

FEATURE ARTICLE 

The Difference Between ID Theft Insurance and an ID Theft Program
By Mark Pribish

There have been some recent news articles questioning why an individual consumer would or should purchase an identity theft insurance policy. 

So the question should not be whether or not a consumer should or should not purchase identity theft insurance.  Instead, the questions to consumers should be:  (1) What does the identity theft insurance mean to me as a consumer including, what does it cover and (2) What is the difference between identity theft insurance and a comprehensive identity theft program?

What does identity theft insurance mean to me as a consumer and what does it cover?  Identity theft insurance policies typically protect an individual consumer for expenses associated with the recovery of one’s identity. 

This means that if an individual required the services of an attorney, private investigator, or any company providing some type of identity recovery service – the identity theft insurance policy would pay for said services.  Other expenses that can be reimbursed for recovering one’s identity include lost wages, notarizing affidavits, long distance calls, tolls, postage, and even travel – as long as the expense is related to recovering one’s identity.

Identity theft insurance can be offered through your credit card company, financial institution, association membership, homeowners or rental insurance policy, or even as a stand alone identity theft insurance policy. 

There are some critics of identity theft insurance who believe that every individual consumer is capable of recovering their own identity and that identity theft insurance is not necessary.  However, the only one who can really decide  whether identity theft insurance is right for you is, you. 

 

Read More...

SCAM CENTRAL - "IRS Tax Refund" Scams

The IRS has issued a warning about two “phishing” scams targeting consumers this tax season.

How They Work:
In one scam, a consumer receives a fake e-mail that claims to come from tax refunds@irs.gov. The email tells the recipient that a refund is waiting for them and that they should click a provided link in order to access a special form that is needed to claim it. Using the information the consumer fills out on this form, scammers are able to obtain a plethora of information crucial in performing identity theft.

In the other scam, “phishermen” call people in their homes, saying that the IRS has a refund for the victim and all that's needed to collect it is a bank account number or other personal financial information.

What you should know:
The IRS will never ask for personal identifying information through unsolicited e-mail and taxpayers do not need to fill out a special form to get a refund. The IRS notifies people by mail if they have a refund coming and taxpayers can also call the IRS to confirm.

If you have been contacted in this manner, please contact the Merchants Credit Care center at 1.866.Smart68 (1.866.762.7868) or your local law enforcement agency and report it immediately.

MORE RESOURCES

Are you at risk? Take our ID theft quiz
Tips about avoiding identity theft
Read the latest ID theft news articles

You’re covered. 

If you believe you are a victim of ID theft, call a Merchants’ professional Recovery Advocate now to protect yourself and restore your good name. 

1.866.Smart68 (1.866.762.7868)


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