the South Carolina Department of Revenue cyber attack, the state gave
all taxpayers a free year of identity protection and monitoring.
However, most hackers know to wait for at least two years before trying
to profit from stolen information. Many people are wondering what
to do when their year of free identity protection is up, and what they
can do to prevent future attacks.
What To Do When a Theft Has Already Occurred
In addition to signing up for identity protection, there are other measures you should take when a theft has occurred.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-438-4338, ftc.gov/complaint, or TTY 866-653-4261.
- File a report with the local police.
- Close any affected bank and credit card accounts.
Inform the credit bureaus and consider putting a credit freeze on the accounts.
(A credit freeze restricts access to credit reports, making it unlikely
that thieves can open new accounts in the your name.)
- Respond to all IRS notices immediately, using the name and number printed on the notice.
How To Prevent Future Identity Theft
reality is that identity theft is on the rise. And it doesn’t take a
foreigner hacking into the state revenue system in order for it to
Personal information is stolen through email phishing, phone calls, and
trash searches. All a thief needs is a discarded tax return,
bank record, or other paperwork containing personal or financial
information. Prevent identity theft by taking the following precautions.
- Arrange for a masked SSN where possible, so your SSN isn’t being circulated visibly.
credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. (Contact details
for the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus are: Equifax
– equifax.com, 800-525-6285; Experian – experian.com, 888-397-3742; and TransUnion – transunion.com, 800-680-7289.)
all information appearing to be from the IRS to your CPA and do not
click on links or open attachments from emails claiming to be from the
- Store your social security card in a safe and secure location, and do not discard any documents with an SSN on them.
give businesses an SSN or other personal information just because they
ask for it. If it’s not required, it’s an unnecessary risk.
- Protect financial information by using a shredder before discarding documents.
- Keep copies of tax returns in a locked file cabinet or safe.
personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam or anti-virus
software, updating security patches, and regularly changing passwords
for internet accounts with sensitive information, such as online banking
in today’s modern world, stealing personal and financial information is
easier than ever. Taking precautions and reporting known thefts quickly
could save you from the headaches involved in dealing with the fallout
of identity theft.