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Tips to destroy and shred

You can’t be too neurotic about shredding sensitive documents to smithereens. For example, some people make a career out of “dumpster diving,” digging through trash in search of bank account information, credit card preapprovals, medical bills, mortgage statements, etc., and then they commit fraud, including creating new accounts with the found information—accounts in the victim’s name.You can’t be too neurotic about shredding sensitive documents to smithereens. For example, some people make a career out of “dumpster diving,” digging through trash in search of bank account information, credit card preapprovals, medical bills, mortgage statements, etc., and then they commit fraud, including creating new accounts with the found information—accounts in the victim’s name. And by the way, anything with your signature can be a gem to the dumpster diver, as your signature can be forged. Diving for Dollars
  • Dumpster diving is legal if the trash can is in a public spot including the big trash bin at your apartment complex.
  • Dumpster divers aren’t necessarily homeless men dressed in rags looking for discarded food. They may be professional identity thieves, and if they’re extra smart, they’ll dress like a vagrant to fool people into thinking they’re looking for food scraps.
  • Your trash can is a goldmine for an identity thief; think of what’s on all the paperwork you toss out, week after week—all sorts of tidbits about your life, from your favorite stores to your kids’ names.
  • A lot of personal details about you come simply from empty envelopes with their return addresses.
Shredding
  • Buy a shredder. There are different kinds that shred at differing dimensions as well as various strengths (some shredders will slice and dice CDs).
  • Don’t buy a “strip-cut” type, as the shreds could be reconstructed. The “micro-cut” shreds at the smallest dimensions.
  • Believe it or not, there are crooks who will take the time to put back together a shredded document, including with the help of Unshredder, a computer program.
Burning
  • Keep a cardboard box handy that you continually fill up with shreddables.
  • Just toss documents that are on deck for burning into this box as you go throughout the day. Then incinerate the box.
  • A large stack of documents will not completely burn, so don’t place these in a motley arrangement so they aren’t “thick”.
Miscellaneous
  • Don’t leave boxes that contained expensive merchandise in plain view at your curb; this is almost the equivalent of sticking a sign there with bright red letters stating: “I just purchased a giant flat screen TV; come on in and steal it.” Destroy/shred
Ask yourself this question: If someone “stole” your trash, would that be a problem? If you say yes, then you toss too much data. For me, I don’t care, nothing I toss is of any value to anyone. ___________________ Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Tax Return Basics: What You must know!

Three things in life are guaranteed: death, taxes and tax-related identity theft. Michael Kasper would agree. Someone registered Kasper’s IRS.gov account, requested the document for his 2013 tax return, then filed a 2014 tax return. The crook used a middleman—an innocent woman who answered his Craigslist ad for a moneymaking opportunity. Tax ID Theft Three things in life are guaranteed: death, taxes and tax-related identity theft. Michael Kasper would agree. Someone registered Kasper’s IRS.gov account, requested the document for his 2013 tax return, then filed a 2014 tax return. The crook used a middleman—an innocent woman who answered his Craigslist ad for a moneymaking opportunity. He sent the money to her bank account, then she wired it to Nigeria, not knowing she was helping the crook. Kasper’s account got busted into when the crook guessed some information about him, maybe stuff he got off of social media. Go to IRS.gov to secure your account to make it nearly unhackable. Get Your Tax Transcripts You can request information via online about your tax returns and transactions for a given year. If you’re not registered yet, you’ll need your Social Security number and instant access to your e-mail account. The step after that is to answer private questions to confirm your identity. Otherwise just log in with your password and user ID. To receive the information by snail mail, you’ll need your SSN or individual tax ID number, address from your latest tax return, plus birthdate. Suspiciously Filed Returns The IRS has been contacting people who are associated with suspiciously filed returns, requesting that they confirm their identity. This is the result of criminals using TurboTax to process returns. The IRS will always make such a request with snail mail, never a phone call, text or e-mail. If you get in the mail a Letter 5071C from the IRS, there’s only two ways to confirm you are you: 1) Visit idverifty.irs.gov and answer some questions, or call the 800 number on the letter itself. For this verification process, you should have on hand your previous year tax return, the current one, and any supporting paperwork like Forms 1099 and W-2. You’ll then need to verify you filed the suspect return. And remember, if you’re on this list and the IRS wants to contact you, it will be by snail mail. Anything else is a scam. _________________ Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

Recovering from identity theft is easier with a plan

Hollywood might have you believe that identity theft means a dozen maxed out credit cards, a warrant for your arrest, and a bill for a spa appointment 2,000 miles away. But in real life, identity theft can be sneakier.Hollywood might have you believe that identity theft means a dozen maxed out credit cards, a warrant for your arrest, and a bill for a spa appointment 2,000 miles away. But in real life, identity theft can be sneakier. It might start with a small credit card charge you don’t recognize. Or a strange new account that shows up on your credit report. Or a letter from the IRS that says you already filed taxes this year. Only you didn’t. If someone uses your information to make purchases, open new accounts, or get a tax refund, that’s identity theft. Only in Hollywood would you fly across the country to track down and arrest the thief. In real life, it might take a while to figure out what’s happened, and how to recover. IdentityTheft.gov — a new resource from the FTC — can help. IdentityTheft.gov can help you determine which critical steps come first, and gives detailed advice and helpful resources — like easy-to-print checklists and sample letters. The site also connects you to organizations that are critical to the recovery process, like credit bureaus, the Social Security Administration, the IRS, and local consumer protection offices. A recent Executive Order called for the FTC and other federal agencies to streamline and consolidate resources at IdentityTheft.gov by May 15, 2015. Future enhancements to the site will allow people to get customized help based on their specific experiences. Looking for free identity theft resources to share in your community? To get free publications, videos, and tutorials, visit ftc.gov/idtheft. You’ll also find prevention tips and outreach ideas for community leaders, law enforcement, and businesses. _________________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

Unlocking the code

Identity thieves may already have a lot of information about you – like your credit card number, the card’s expiration date, and your name, address, and phone number. With all that information in his hands, why would he call you?Identity thieves may already have a lot of information about you – like your credit card number, the card’s expiration date, and your name, address, and phone number. With all that information in his hands, why would he call you? He’s after one vital piece of information – the security code on your credit card. Here’s how the scam works. The scammer says he’s calling from your credit card’s security or fraud department. They’ve flagged some suspicious activity on your card, he says. He makes up a bogus transaction and asks if you authorized it. Of course, you didn’t. So he says he’ll open a fraud investigation, gives you a case reference number, and tells you to call the phone number on your credit card if you have any questions. It all seems fine so far, right? But, he says, there’s just one more thing. He needs to verify that you are in possession of the card – so he asks you to tell him the security code. And it’s the final piece of the puzzle he’s after. If you get a call like this:
  • Don’t give the caller any information about your account – even if he already knows some of the details.
  • Hang up the phone. Call the customer service number on the back of your credit card. Talk to the fraud or security department and ask about the unauthorized charges the caller told you about.
  • Report the suspicious call to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP.
  • Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and others about it. By spreading the word, you can help someone you care about avoid falling for a scam.
Identity thieves will try a lot of different tricks to get your personal information. No matter the story they tell you, don’t give anyone your personal information if you didn’t initiate the contact using contact information you know is trustworthy. And find out what else you can do to protect your personal information from ending up in the wrong hands. __________________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.