Open Season for Tax Identity Thieves!

Open Season for Tax Identity Thieves!

Open season for Tax Identity Thieves is in full swing.  They are ready for you to procrastinate, to hold off on doing your taxes because they are ready to do it for you. 

Tax identity theft occurs when the bad guy uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to file a fake tax return and collect your refund.  You are unlikely to find out about it until you attempt to file your real tax return and it is rejected by the IRS as a duplicate.  The fraudulent use of your SSN means you also may be at risk for other types of identity theft. 

What to do.
  • Beat them to it and file your taxes as early as possible to ensure you do not become a victim.  This is extremely important if you know your information has been part of any one of the data breaches over the years or if you have had your identity stolen in the past already. 
  • Protect your Social Security Number whenever possible.  You are often asked for your SSN on forms but it is not always necessary.  Do not provide your SSN unless it is absolutely needed.
  • Beware of SCAMS.  Lookout for Government imposters threatening fines, arrest or cancellation of your SSN if you do not pay them immediately.  They will usually ask you to pay with a gift card or prepaid debit card. If you pay them, you will never see your money again.  Some scammers will ask you to confirm your identity by providing your SSN, again, do not. Remember, the IRS will contact you first by mail.  Additionally, the IRS will never email you, send you a text or contact you on a social network.
  • Secure your network.  If you are filing electronically, use a secure, password-protected network or Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to do so.  You can also mail your returns directly from the Post Office, do not put them in your personal mailbox with the flag up!
  • Know your tax person!  If you are using someone to prepare your taxes, you must go through your due diligence before you hand over your Personally Identifiable Information, (PII). 
What if it happens to me? 
  1. First, contact the IRS as soon as you can.   Keep careful documentation of everything and stay in touch with the IRS until the issue is resolved. 
  2. Second, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  3. Third, file a complaint with the local police department. 
  4. Fourth, put a fraud alert on your credit file with all three credit bureaus.
    It is an open hunting season for identity thieves but we don’t have to be deer in headlights, take these steps and mitigate your risk.   

Hunting season for Tax Identity Thieves is in full swing and its time to know your rights:  PDF HERE 

If you don’t want to fight this fight alone, get identity theft protection and mitigate your risks with monitoring, cover your losses with insurance and ensure peace of mind with a place to turn with full-service recovery experts.  Read more about identity theft protection here:  14 features of Identity Theft Protection Monitoring and the Most Important Feature!






ID Theft Increases Stress and Fatigue

ID Theft Increases Stress and Fatigue

Effecting all ages, from small towns to big cities to the entire world, Identity theft can reach everyone.  Often considered a victimless crime, ID theft increases stress and fatigue and is definitely not victimless.  Data shows that yes institutions are impacted but the impact on individuals, family, co-workers, employers, and friends is great.  The impact on the individual is immediate, causing stress and emotional trauma that causes a domino of negative events personally, professionally, and socially.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to support victims of identity theft released the initial findings of its The Aftermath®: The Non-Economic Impacts of Identity Theft victim impact survey.

A very interesting account that goes beyond the known financial indicators caused by identity theft.   Instead, the report explores the emotional, physical and psychological impacts experienced by victims of identity crime.

The survey participants were actual ID theft victims who contacted the ITRC for assistance in 2017. The survey found that “many of the respondents experienced negative emotional impacts that resulted in real physical consequences. As an example, of the individuals that responded, 77.3 percent reported increased stress levels and 54.5 percent had increased fatigue or decreased energy.”

“Year after year, The Aftermath® survey continues to show that the effects of identity theft are far-reaching: impacting victims’ general emotional and physical well-being, their relationships with others and even how they engage within their work or school environments,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “As we work with industry and other stakeholders, it’s crucial to continue to share the emotional, physical and socio-economic impact findings with them so they better understand the totality of the ramifications of this crime, as well as providing encouragement for them to elicit change within their organizations.”

According to the survey, findings included that due to their identity theft incident:

  • nearly 46 percent of those surveyed said they felt like they couldn’t trust family
  • and 55 percent stated they had trust issues with friends.
  • Respondents admitted the identity theft incident caused problems at their place of employment (32 percent) and at school (8 percent).

To access the preliminary findings of The Aftermath® for 2018, you can go to

Data breaches continue to impact the total number of ID theft victims, affecting more Americans than ever (16.7 million) became a victim of ID theft last year.  It is no longer an option to just trust that any entity will hold my information safely.  ID Theft Increases Stress and Fatigue, and we need to have a plan for when our information is used fraudulently.  Read “What Do Identity Theft Protection Services Really Do? to determine if a program makes sense for you.

43% of Breaches Affect Small Businesses

43% of Breaches Affect Small Businesses

In the recently released 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), Verizon found that 43% of breaches affect small businesses and that a third (32%) of breaches involved phishing, a form of social engineering.

Verizon built this report upon the analysis of 41,686 security incidents and 2,013 confirmed data breaches, the Verizon DBIR digs into the overall threat landscape, the actors, actions, and assets that are present in breaches.

The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) Key Takeaways (please see here) highlights 12 key takeaways including:


  1. Financial gain remains the most common motivate behind data breaches (71%)
  2. 43% of breaches affect small businesses
  3. Phishing Phunny!A third (32%) of breaches involved phishing
  4. The nation-state threat is increasing, with 23% of breaches by nation-state actors
  5. More than half (56%) of data breaches took months or longer to discover
  6. Ransomware remains a major threat and is the second most common type of malware reported
  7. Criminals increasingly target Business Executives with social engineering attacks.
  8. Crypto-mining malware accounts for less than 5% of data breaches, despite the publicity it didn’t make the top ten malware listed in the report
  9. Espionage is a key motivation behind a quarter of data breaches
  10. 60 million records breached due to misconfigured cloud service buckets
  11. Continued reduction in payment card point of sale breaches
  12. The hacktivist threat remains low, the increase in the DBIR 2012 report appears to be a one-off spike

An interesting takeaway:

Cyber attackers target the network, where executives are “six times more likely to be a target of social engineering than they were only a year ago; and, C-level executives are 12 times more likely to be the target.”

This means that Business Email Compromises (BEC) are proving successful for ID theft criminals and cyber thieves.

Verizon stated that BEC breaches represented 248 (18%) confirmed breaches out of the 2,013 confirmed data breaches. In addition, Risk-Based Security recently announced the release of its Q1 2019 Data Breach QuickView Report highlighting how over 1,900 data breach events — exposing over 1.9 billion records — were reported in the first three months on 2019.

According to Risk Based Security, “no other first quarter has seen this level of activity, putting 2019 on pace to be yet another ‘worst year on record’ for the number of publicly reported breaches.”

The report found “that 67.6% of records compromised in Q1 were due to exposure of sensitive data on the Internet.”

If you are a small business, considering Identity Theft Protection as an Employee Benefit or a breach readiness and response program is worth considering!

Why Provide Identity Theft Protection as an Employee Benefit?

Why Provide Identity Theft Protection as an Employee Benefit?

Employers often ask, “Why should I provide identity theft protection as an employee benefit?”.  Let’s face it, we increasingly live our lives online.  If it’s banking, social media, or buying products and services we constantly expose ourselves to potential fraud.

With that, employees are more aware of the issue either through personal experience or the frequent breaches in the headlines.  But again, why should you add Identity Theft Protection as an employee benefit?  After all, they can just go get it on their own, right…yes

But employees expect their employer to help them with their financial wellness.  Employees expect financial vehicles such as 401k plans, disability insurance, medical insurance, life insurance, and student debt programs.  And now, increasingly looking to employers for programs to protect them against the detrimental effects of Identity Theft.

If you have not considered Identity Theft Protection, here are the top reasons why you should consider it.

  1. It is a huge problem!  The enormous number of breaches can not be overlooked.  Employees are aware and understand that they are at greater risk now than ever before.  Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) but so few people know what to do about it.  The right Identity Theft Protection program mitigates the risks and gives employees a place to turn when fraud does happen.

  2. Productivity.  Peace of mind is prerequisite to focus.  Identity Theft is a huge distraction, one that interrupts focus and will negatively impact your employee and your business.  Employee’s dealing with identity theft are worried about financial security.  An employee will spend anywhere from 40-60 hours during work on recovering their identity according to the FTC.  Employees covered with an effective Identity Theft Protection program, a dedicated Recovery Advocate is assigned to the case.  The recovery advocate will work on the employee’s behalf, ensuring resolution and alleviating time spent away from work.  Peace of mind with a place to turn, keeping your employees focused and productive.
  3. Return On Investment.  What is the cost of 7% of your employee group being out for 40-60 hours?  The Return On Investment with a program is significant.  Presenteeism, absenteeism, and lack of focus all result in a loss to the company.  A program done with the right provider can significantly decrease the cost of a program, increasing your ROI.
  4. Protect the Company.  Most breaches are a result of social engineering.  Social Engineering is the use of deception to manipulate employees into divulging confidential or personal information for fraudulent purposes.  Employee personal data exposure can give bad actors easy access to the company network.  Identity theft protection programs can mitigate the risks of exposure by helping to identify and react rapidly when an employee has their identity stolen.  Providers also provide educational awareness around the dangers of social engineering, password management, and other threats to decrease their susceptibility to threats.
  5. Attract and Retain by Staying Relevant.  Employers are constantly competing with salary and benefits.  In a world constantly peppered with cyberattacks, Identity Theft Protection is in high demand and more relevant than ever before.
    1. Attracting Talent is top of mind for many companies.  Unique, personalized benefits packages that address the core benefits of financial wellness are staples to the package.  Identity Theft Protection, often considered an ancillary benefit may be the benefit that puts you ahead of the competition.
    2. Retaining employees should be a driving factor in your benefits portfolio.  Yes, attracting new talent might be the goal…but keeping the talent you have is a must.  Continued engagement and value through Identity Theft Protection will help.

An Identity Theft Protection as an employee benefit is worth serious consideration.  It will contribute to workplace productivity, allowing employees to stay focused on their job instead of the fears of identity theft.  The risks of identity theft are real, affecting millions of employees and companies but a great provider can help.

Click here for or more information on What Identity Theft Protection Companies Actually Do

or here for the 14 Features of an Identity Theft Protection Company and the Most Important One!



Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)