Here at PHD Tax, your safety is our top priority. We do our part to keep your information as safe as possible, including 24/7 security and increased measures to keep all of your electronic and physical information secure. With a small staff, your personal information is not constantly changing hands and your tax preparer remains the same year after year, so you can rest assured that you know exactly who sees your documents.
Protecting you against identity theft is a team effort. In the last year, the IRS has invested in a nation-wide effort to protect you from refund fraud and identity theft. By doubling IRS employees since 2011, strengthening return processing systems, and increasing punishments for offenders, sentencing of identity thieves have tripled in the last year. Here are a few highlights from the past year’s efforts to keep you safe:
to see this article in full, visit www.irs.gov’s website
- The number of IRS criminal investigations into identity theft issues more than tripled in fiscal year 2012. The IRS started 276 investigations in fiscal year 2011, a number that jumped to 898 in fiscal year 2012. So far in fiscal year 2013, there have been more than 560 criminal identity theft investigations opened.
- Total enforcement actions continue to rapidly increase against identity thieves. This category covers actions ranging from indictments and arrests to search warrants. In fiscal year 2012, enforcement actions totaled 2,400 against 1,310 suspects. After just four months in fiscal 2013, enforcement actions totaled 1,703 against 907 suspects.
- Sentencing of convicted identity thieves continue to increase. There were 80 sentencing in fiscal year 2011, which increased to 223 in fiscal year 2012.
- Jail time is increasing for identity thieves. The average sentence in fiscal year 2012 was four years or 48 months – a four-month increase from the average in fiscal year 2011. So far this fiscal year, sentences have ranged from 4 to 300 months.
There is also plenty you can do to protect yourself against identity fraud as well. We compiled a list of easy steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. To find out more information, visit the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) website.
- Keep your financial documents and personal information in a locked location in your home. Invest in a lock box or a locking filing cabinet to store any files with your bank accounts or social security numbers, including your tax returns.
- Shred receipts, credit card offers, insurance forms, and bank statements when you no longer need them.
- Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before your throw them out.
- Invest in a locking mail box or a PO Box if you tend to be away from home for days at a time, or ask a trusted friend or family member to remove mail from your mail box. You can also request a vacation hold on your mail through USPS at no charge.
- Wipe the hard drive of your computer and delete all personal information from mobile devices before disposing of them.
- Use only secured Wi-Fi networks when sending personal information over your laptop or smartphone.
Put these easy steps into practice every day of the year to help cut down on identity theft. We wish you and your families a safe and wonderful year!
To find out more information about us and how we strive to help you all year, not just regarding your safety or your tax return, visit our About Us page on our website. We also welcome you to call the office, (425) 242-0636, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.