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P.O. Box 209

Vonore, TN 37885


What’s In Your Wallet?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 | Uncategorized | No Comments

Identity theft is a crime on the rise and is becoming more profitable, in large part thanks to the Internet. The Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration reported that the IRS could be receiving as many as 1.5 million tax returns resulting from identity theft of individuals. The IRS paid out $70.6 million in fraudulent refunds in 2010 to identity thieves who filed a tax return before the legitimate taxpayer filed their return.

Thieves intent on stealing your identity employ a variety of tactics to obtain your personal data. They may steal your mail from your mailbox, steal your wallet or purse, send you emails pretending to be your bank, credit card company, or a friend hoping you will click on a link or respond providing your personal data. If you are unfortunate enough to click on a link containing malware, a virus may secretly be installed onto your computer. The thief hopes that the malware will go undetected, and over time, the thieves may utilize your computer to carry on their clandestine activities.

Through the use of malware, thieves can monitor and record your key strokes and websites you visit to steal your username and passwords to such sensitive websites such as your bank account, broker accounts, credit card numbers, security codes, etc. Armed with this data, they can then log into and access your accounts, transferring money, making purchases, and even using your contact lists to send emails that appear to be from you so your contacts may also open the links and have their computers infected as well. Once the thieves gain control of your computer, they have access to your personal data. They can even turn on and off your video camera or webcam connected to your computer.

On average, about 93,000 records are stolen every hour. Businesses are often victimized by employees who download or make copies of personal data and then sells that data to identity thieves. Stolen usernames and passwords sell for $5 to $20 each on the Internet. Stolen credit and debit card numbers can sell for as much as $100. Card numbers and IDs are often purchased with BitCoins, a form of electronic currency, to make it difficult to trace the funds. Identity thieves also purchase insurance ID information, driver’s license numbers, and other personal data. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act requires all employers, regardless of size, to effectively destroy all documents or other media that contains personal information, including names, phone numbers, addresses, account numbers, and Social Security numbers.

Some signs that you may have become an identity theft victim could include missing mail, accounts on your credit report you did not open, unknown charges on your credit cards, unrecognized withdrawals from your bank account, receiving credit cards you did not apply for, inability to access bank or financial accounts online, or notifications that your password has been reset when you did not initiate the change.

Here are some steps you should take to protect your personal information:
» Never give your personal data to someone you do not know.
» Shred all bank, credit card, brokerage, and other documents containing personal data using a micro-shredder.
» Never provide your PIN number. Legitimate companies will not ask for it.
» Remember the IRS will never ask for personal information in an email or on the phone.
» Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
» Cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN.
» Review your credit report quarterly, and review new accounts, balances, and inquiries.
» Cover the camera lens on any cameras connected to your computer, including the built-in camera in laptop computers.
» Install a firewall and good anti-virus program on your computer and keep it up to date.
» Don’t enter personal information in pop-up windows.
» Do not send personal information over public Wi-Fi networks.
» Password protect your smartphone and other smart devices.
» Enroll in a backup or wiping program that backs up your smart devices and will allow you to remotely erase the information on a lost or stolen device.
» Keep all files that contain personal information in locked filing cabinets or drawers.
» Use complex and different usernames and passwords to access personal accounts.

These steps and exercising common sense could prevent you from becoming an identity theft victim. Individuals as well as businesses should take seriously the threat of thieves who continuously send malware to your computer in an attempt to steal personal information.

The staff at Warren & Tallent is always available and ready to assist you with your accounting or tax needs. Contact our Sweetwater office at (423)337-5003 or our Madisonville office at (423)442-3890. We welcome the opportunity to serve you.

Warren & Tallent

606C South Main Street in Sweetwater
(423) 337-5003

409 North College Street, Suite 2 in Madisonville
(423) 442-3890


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East Tennessee's Mountain Views

P.O. Box 209

Vonore, TN 37885

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