Tax season is here, and though you technically have until April 15 to file your returns, you might want to submit yours sooner than that — at least if you want to avoid potential identity theft (and a whole lot of hassle).
Tax-related identity theft is a growing problem in America, and the more security breaches, information hacks and digital business we do as a society, the more consumers who fall victim to it. In fact, in 2016 alone, thieves stole more than $21 billion in tax refunds as a result of this simple, yet clever, form of identity theft.
Have you fallen victim to Tax ID Theft and need help dealing with the financial ramifications? Or just want to know ways to prevent it from happening to you? This guide can help.
What is Tax-Related Identity Theft?
Tax identity theft occurs when someone files a tax return using your Social Security Number. In some cases, thieves do this in order to claim a fraudulent tax refund. In others, they may have used your SSN to obtain employment. When this occurs, their employer will report all income to the IRS using that SSN. When you don’t report that same income on your own return, the IRS will (more…)
Curiosity killed the cat is the way the saying goes, however in this case curiosity got a whole bunch of people fired.
In an unfortunate case of a little curiosity dozens of people were fired for snooping into the medical records of Jussie Smollet at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
When you go to ANY medical professional or facility your medical records are suppose to be private. Certain instances can cause your records to go to other individuals but we are not going into that here.
HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, provided for your protection against unauthorized access to your records.
Many different types of companies have their own policy against unauthorized access of company records for which violating these rule can and does get you immediately terminated for cause.
Whether or not your company has such rules the best thing is to never go snooping for information you are not authorized to have. And if you are authorized remember you are held to a high confidence level.
So as they say in the old gangster movies “you don’t know nothin.”
How often do you currently check your bank account? Only when the statement comes in or, for some of us, even longer. Nothing is more frustrating than thinking you have money in your account only to have your card declined while you are out shopping due to someone getting to your account first.
Today it seems, just about everyone has their information out on the dark web due to the hacking events we hear everyday on the news. But what about the ones we don’t hear? Most of the time, the hacking has taken place long before you are notified.
One easy habit to get into is to check you bank account every week for any discrepancies. I have gotten into the habit of checking my account as part of my morning routine. That way I can catch any suspicious activity before it ruins my day and I also know my bank balance.
by Seena Gressin
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
Marriott International says that a breach of its Starwood guest reservation database exposed the personal information of up to 500 million people. If your information was exposed, there are steps you can take to help guard against its misuse.
According to Marriott, the hackers accessed people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender, Starwood loyalty program account information, and reservation information. For some, they also stole payment card numbers and expiration dates. Marriott says the payment card numbers were encrypted, but it does not yet know if the hackers also stole the information needed to decrypt them.
The hotel chain says the breach began in 2014 and anyone who made a reservation at a Starwood property on or before September 10, 2018 could be affected. Starwood brands include W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, and other hotel and timeshare properties.
The company set up an informational website, https://answers.kroll.com, and a call center, 877-273-9481, to answer questions. It says affected customers also can sign up for a year of free services that will monitor websites that criminals use to share people’s (more…)
This blog is a summary of a 2017 study commissioned by IBM and undertaken by the Ponemon Institute, LLC on the cost of a data breach that can be found at https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach
A data breach is an event – either accidental or intentional – that discloses personal, financial and/or any other private information of a business or an individual that potentially puts the entity at risk of some type of loss.
The principal causes of a data breach that compromises records and potentially puts personal and business information at risk are:
- Criminal attacks
- Human error by an employee
- Business process or IT failures
The average cost to a financial institution for each compromised record in 2016 was $245.
The average cost of detection and escalation incurred by the U.S. firms following a material data breach in 2016 was $1.07 million.
Factors that may decrease the cost of a data breach include:
- Participation in threat sharing
- Use of security analytics
- The recruitment and retention of knowledgeable personnel
The probability of a material data breach occurring at any organization over the next 24-month period is estimated to be 26.8%.
Contact American Document Destruction today to learn more on how our service can assist you or your business’ avoid a data breach.
This is a wonderful time of the year. Everyone is shopping and giving to those in need. Just be careful that you are not giving your information to the wrong people.
- Shop at site you know are reliable. Make sure the site you are going to doesn’t have any funny symbols or numbers in the address. Identity thieves create site that have website addresses that can look very close to the real thing. They may even have links to different departments showing the companies merchandise but all they are after is your credit card information.
- Watch out for pop-ups that ask for your credit information. All reliable websites have a checkout tab that will take you to a secure pay area. When in doubt close out and call the store to verify a site.
- Never EVER give out your password to a website after you have logged into the site. IF this happens, you have been redirected to a fact site.
Remember, while this is a great time of year, identity thieves are always looking for way to make it a great time at your expense.
Document Destruction is a very important part of protecting sensitive business information, client records and employee files. Privacy protection should be at the top of your list when looking for a reputable professional shredding provider. But ensuring your records are destroyed securely isn’t the only thing a professional shredding service can offer your business. In addition to reducing liability and increasing productivity, outsourcing your document shredding also protects your business reputation, contributes to a healthier planet, and saves your organization money.
1. Enabling Productivity
Relying on an office shredder is better than throwing documents in the garbage. But it still takes time to do. Shredding a single file can take several minutes with all the steps involved.
When you shred in house, you end up paying your employees to feed a shredder rather than generate income.
American Document Destruction enables your staff to be more efficient with their time. Collection containers are placed within your office allowing no-longer-needed documents to be discarded quickly and securely. The entire destruction process is handled for you, enabling enhanced productivity for your staff.
2. Saving Money
Maintaining an internal document destruction program for your company can get expensive. Your costs can include purchasing shredders, buying disposal bags, maintenance, replacing aging equipment, and added (more…)
Right now, hackers and thieves could be looking for ways to steal you or your family members personal and financial information. Here are just a few or their tactics and targets.
By stealing your mail, thieves can get your personal information from bills and statements.
Thieves call pretending to be someone they are not, and request your personal information.
By looking over your shoulder, thieves can steal passwords or PIN numbers to access your private information.
COMPUTER MALWARE AND VIRUSES
Your computer can be hacked through web sites, internet programs or file sharing networks.
Companies you do business with could be storing your personal information. If there is a breach, your information could be compromised.
Your credit and debit cards could be at risk if you shop at fictitious web sites or through unsecured payment systems.
Criminals can access your personal information through unprotected computer networks.
Thieves can gather personal info from online profiles and apps.
Always make sure you are protecting you and your family against identity thieves who want to take over your family’s bank accounts, make purchases using your family’s credit, open new accounts or apply for loans in your names, or steal your loved ones tax returns or government benefits.
Nowadays, identity thieves may get your identity from data breached or compromised accounts. However, some still rely on the old-fashioned methods of mail theft or digging through your trash.
This is one of the reasons document destruction is still such an important tool, but with these unscrupulous individuals becoming more and more sophisticated and savvy, what and how you shred is more important than ever.
Even though people are doing more things digitally, many still have copies of bills or statements that may have originally been received digitally. Many still print them off and keep them in a file, which still keeps them vulnerable.
Your own personal information is everywhere… bills, bank statements, blank checks… even in credit card offers and magazines received through the mail.
If you don’t take the proper disposal of this personal information very seriously, it could end costing you.
Document destruction, or paper shredding, lowers the risk of having your confidential documents stolen and used against you. While many people are diligent about shredding their documents routinely, many also just let their documents pile up.
And that is why so many people are turning to professional shredding services.
One of our most asked questions is if you need to remove staples, paper clips, (more…)
Every October, we join the Better Business Bureau of Northern Nevada in the “Secure Your ID Day” shred event to help local residents properly dispose of any sensitive material they may have.
We do a number of these types of shred events every year, however this one is easily our largest. Bill, Bobby, Robert and Steven were the techs on duty for this one, scheduled on Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 9 am to 12 pm.
Are you interested in holding a shred event? How do you organize one?
- Determine if you want a small or large event
- Recruit volunteers
- Pick a shredding service (we’re great at this)
- Find a great place to shred
- Promote the event
- Prep your team
- Let’s shred!
Keep in mind, there are usually costs involved in hiring a shredding service to put these on as well. You may be able to use local television stations and put out a “press release” to help advertise your event.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of a “shred day”, you can ask your bank, credit union or local municipality if they have any scheduled. Other businesses will do them as customer appreciation as well. Some (more…)