Summer Vacation - A Privacy and Identity Theft Primer


When you travel, your risk of exposure to fraud and identity theft may increase. It’s a fact that people tend to let their guard down while on vacation.  Identity theft is often a crime of opportunity.  Don’t be a vacationer who presents a thief with that opportunity.  Your personal information, credit and debit cards, driver’s license, passport, and other personal information are the criminal’s target. By spending a few minutes planning before you travel, you can help reduce the risk that a thief will ruin your vacation.  You can also help avoid unnecessary problems with your financial institution. Here are some tips for an enjoyable vacation.

Shred It, Don't Forget It!


With tax season ending, do you ever wonder what to do with your personal and financial records? Which ones do you need to save for tax or other purposes? While some people like to save things forever, others want to immediately toss out unnecessary clutter.

So what's the best way to decide whether to save or discard your records? Here are a few tips and information sources to help you decide which records you need to save, and how long you need to keep them.

Census Scams -- You Can Count on It


Now that the April 1st mail-in deadline has passed, Census employees are expected to make home visits to those individuals who did not return their Census forms.  Census workers will begin visiting private homes on May 1st.  Be careful. Scam artists posing as Census workers may engage in a number of tactics to collect personal information about you to commit fraud.  Typically, scammers will seek to obtain information such as your Social Security number or financial information.  Don’t fall for the trap!  At Census time and throughout the year, guard your personal information carefully. 

If you are not certain of the legitimacy of a request for information from the Census or any other organization, ask questions.  Do not provide any personal information until you have verified the identity of the requester. Read our tips so that you don’t fall prey to a scammer.

LifeLock Customers to Receive Refunds


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that customers of LifeLock's identity theft protection services will be receiving refunds as part of a settlement with the company. Since 2006, LifeLock has advertised that it could prevent identity theft for consumers willing to sign up for its $10-a-month service. However, the fraud alerts that LifeLock placed on its customers’ credit files protected only against certain forms of identity theft. Yesterday’s FTC announcement about LifeLock confirms that consumers should use caution and common sense before paying for identity theft monitoring services.

IRS Information Returns: An Identity Thief's Dream?


At this time of the year, you can expect to receive in your mail at least some IRS information returns that will contain your full Social Security number.  Your Social Security number is the key to identity theft.  For this reason, an information return (like a W-2) can be an identity thief’s dream come true.  In fact, some information returns may contain not only your full Social Security number, but your bank or other financial institution account number(s)—the perfect combination for identity theft.  Read our suggestions on what you can do to protect yourself.

Holiday Shopping? Ten Timely Tips


During the holiday season, you may be shopping more frequently and under more crowded and frantic conditions.   Follow these tips to help avoid scams and rip-offs.   Be a privacy-smart consumer!  Wherever you happen to shop this holiday season--the mall, online, or on Main Street--following these tips will help you have a safer and more private holiday season.

Planning a Summer Vacation? Be a Privacy-Smart Traveler


Identity theft is often a crime of opportunity. Don’t be a vacationer who presents a crook with that opportunity. Your personal information, credit and debit cards, driver’s license, passport, and other personal information are the fraudster’s target. A few minutes spent planning before you travel can help reduce the risk that a fraudster will ruin your vacation. Read this alert for tips to help you avoid any nasty surprises.

Protecting Your Social Security Number at Tax Time


Identity thieves want your Social Security number (SSN) so they can assume your identity and commit fraud. Around tax time, protecting your SSN takes on even greater importance. The Information Returns that you receive (Forms W-2 and 1099) as well as your IRS income tax return (Form 1040) will all contain your SSN. Each of these forms, if not handled properly, presents an opportunity for your SSN to be used fraudulently.

It's Tax Time. Take These Extra Precautions with Your Mail


During the month of January, check your mailbox for “information returns” from organizations (both individuals and businesses) that have made taxable payments to you during the previous year.  These information notices will arrive on IRS approved forms, but will be sent to you directly by the organization providing you with taxable income.  The most well-known information return is the IRS W-2 form which reports your taxable wages.

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