Infographic of the Day: Identity Theft During Tax Season

The 2014 tax filing deadline is quickly approaching.  The last day to submit your tax return is Tuesday, April 15.  For you last minute filers, be mindful of tax scams that prey on people who are hastily filing their taxes before the deadline.  Protect Your Bubble has compiled some important identity theft facts and protection tips, presented in beautiful infographic format!

 Identity Theft Infographic - Tax Season

 

Interesting points from the infographic:

  • In 2013, the IRS started 1,492 criminal investigations related to identity theft, up 66% from the previous year.
  • Identity theft cases related to tax season are up 43% since 2010.
  • Since 2012, the IRS has stopped 14.6 million suspicious tax returns.
  • Identity Theft cases rise during tax season.  Protect Your Bubble data shows that these cases are typically 14% higher in March and 21% higher in April.

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Can Paying My Taxes Affect My Credit Score?

credit score taxes

Tax time is a stressful time. Do you worry that tax issues will spill over to your credit reports and affect your credit score? The good news is that owing the IRS doesn’t affect your credit score, but how you choose to pay your taxes does.

 
The following are 4 ways that you can pay your tax bill and the implications to your credit score:

 

Personal Loan

If you apply for a loan to settle a large tax bill, the personal loan amount and your monthly payment record will be reflected in your credit reports. Note that the fact that you applied for a loan will count as an inquiry into your credit score and this will lower your credit score as well, but the drop is merely temporary. If you are considering applying for a personal loan, you should begin by assessing your credit strengths and weaknesses. You can minimize loan applications by first determining a lender’s minimum credit score requirements. Choose a lender with credit requirements that will match your credit score.

 

Credit CardCredit-cards

Having a large credit line is an advantage for most people. Charging a tax bill can be an option for credit card holders. If you’re already consuming a large amount of your available credit, there will be consequences to your credit score. Charging a credit that is nearing its limit can impact your credit utilization ratio. This measures about 30% of your overall credit score.

 

Installments

Paying a tax bill by IRS installment agreements will not affect your credit score in any way. This is because installment agreements are not reported to credit reporting agencies.

 

Tax Lien

If you owe a large amount of taxes or if you fail to resolve your debt quickly, the IRS will issue you a tax lien which will reflect on your credit reports.  Tax liens fall into the negative category, alongside collection accounts or bankruptcy. Unless you take the necessary steps to get this withdrawn, these can stay on your credit report for 7 years after the tax liability is resolved. If successful, your credit scores could rise significantly, provided that the rest of the information on your reports is positive. Fortunately, the IRS has made some changes to its tax lien policies, making it easier for taxpayers to get liens withdrawals after paying their tax bills.

 

When deliberating on how to pay your taxes, best give your credit score a look. Armed with this information, it will be easier to determine which payment method is best suited for your current financial situation. Whatever the case, it is always a good idea to continually monitor your credit.
 
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How Identity Theft Affects Your Taxes

Cases of identity theft continue to rise, alarming more people during tax season. Fortunately, the IRS has expanded its capabilities to prevent fraudulent returns. This is their top priority as they are now more prepared to prevent cases of identity theft as soon as possible. They employ more than 3,000 people and train 35,000 employees to recognize identity theft as soon as it occurs.

 

Identity theft is a case of deception. This happens when someone uses your own personal identification to commit crimes. Your credit cards, Social Security Number and other identification can be stolen and used for different purposes without you being aware of it.

 

Identity theft actually causes you to pay more taxes. You would eventually notice the crime only after it was done. A good example of which is when you are expecting a refund but it gets delayed. The thieves may have used your information to file fraudulent refund claims. To protect you from identity theft, here are few practices you should do:

 

  1. Never give out any information especially when it is not necessary. If someone asks you to give your ITIN or SSN, be sure to know why it is needed.
  2. Keep all of your personal information in a safe place. When keeping it at home, be sure to keep it somewhere out of reach.
  3. Your computer can be a source of theft. Be sure to use antivirus programs that will protect you from malicious activity.
  4. Every year, check your credit report. It should be consistent with the previous records that you maintain.
  5. It’s a good idea to not carry your Social Security Card with you. Leave it in a safe, secure place.

 

If you received a notice from the IRS, be sure to respond as soon as you can. The IRS has trained professionals to determine if a certain account is suspected to have fraudulent claims. You should respond with your name and the number included in the notice. Also, an Identity Theft Affidavit should be filled-out along with your reply. This can be downloaded at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf.

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The Top 2 Things You Need to Know to Protect Your Safety Online

Identity theft is one of the major concerns today. Every minute, there is an approximate number of 19 victims and has reached 9.9 million a year, according to a report published by the Federal Trade Commission. This alarming rate has everyone deeply concerned with the financial security. With the continuous advancement of convenient purchases, identity theft has become an opportunity for thieves to steal money easily. Prioritizing your safety online and the safety of your loved ones should be your primary concern. Here are 2 of the most important ways to protect yourself:

 

1.       Create a strong password

 

Protecting your safety online does not only limit to your online or credit card purchases. Your personal identity can also be hacked and used for different cybercrimes. A good example of these is your email. Your email is your way of communication with different people, so it has to be secured in the sense that only you can access it. The most common incident of email hacking is when your email is being used for different purposes. The hacker may send messages to your contact list stating that you needed money for an emergency situation.

 

To create a strong password, make sure that it contains numbers, symbols and letters. It should not contain anything related to you like your name, birthday, company name and other previous passwords. You can also consider using ASCII characters.

 

2.       Protect Your Online Purchases and Credit Cards

 

The most important consideration in prioritizing your safety online is the way you purchase an item. When doing some shopping online, be sure that the website has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. To easily determine if a website is secure, look at the address bar and see if it is an ‘HTTPS’ instead of ‘HTTP.’

 

Never ever divulge any information without being sure that it came from a legitimate site. Further, never ever send any personal information through your email. There are thousands of scammers waiting patiently for their next victim, and you can be one of them. Secure your safety online and never be a victim of identity theft.

 

For more information, visit Protect Your Bubble’s ID Theft services today.

 

Also, to see a simulated hacking experience on Facebook, check out http://protectyourprofile.org/ now.

 

Additional Source:

http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/identity-theft-and-fraud/identity-theft-facts.page

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3 Tips for Protecting Yourself Safety Online

Today, most people love the convenience of doing their business online.  This includes personal banking, shopping and paying bills just to name a few. Making transactions online, however, requires you enter some very valuable and potentially risky personal information.  These includes data such as your:

 

  • Full name
  • Card number
  • Address
  • Social security number

 

While most of the companies (we hope!) perform legitimate business online, there are people waiting to get their hands on your personal information and identity details for ID theft, scamming and other fraudulent activities. As a result of this, you must be careful with what you do with your information.

To protect yourself and keep the risk at a minimum, you should always:

 

  1. Monitor and track your financial accounts – you can ensure that your privacy is protected by updating your bankbooks frequently and dedicating specific dates to speak to your personal banker.  If there is any questionable activity on your accounts then it is best to realize sooner than later so that the damage will not be extensive.
  2. Don’t let your card out of your site – if you are at the store and you decide to pay for your purchase with your card then try to avoid leaving it on the counter even to scratch your head. Do not risk anyone viewing your card number or any other details that are written on it.  People are able to use the smallest bit of information to commit cyber crimes.
  3. Avoid storing passwords in your phone or writing pin numbers on paper. It is true that numbers are hard to remember, especially when you have multiple cards. As a result many of us write this stuff down, even when we know better. Whether you keep this info in your phone or your purse, it’s not safe from the hands of someone determined to look for ways they can compromise your money and your identity.

 

There are many institutions and laws that pertain to cyber security.  These are certainly there to protect you but obviously you cannot rely on that system solely to be completely guarded.

 

For  information on ID Theft solutions and precautions available, check out our identity theft services page.

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Facebook Safety: Facebook Identity Theft

The all popular and renowned Facebook is the fastest growing social networking website in the world today. More than 250,000 new users are being added to the network daily. Although joining a social networking site seems fun, it is best to keep in mind that sharing information has lots of risks. This includes your personal data – such as your name, contact information, e-mail, and other personal information can be accessed by others when your profile is viewed. Anyone can get private photos and important information about you from your profile. Facebook safety is important especially if you want to avoid Facebook identity theft.

 

Facebook identity theft involves another person stealing your personal information. This comes in various ways. A person can copy your photos, upload them, and create an account which he/she manages but using your name, pictures, and other personal information.

 

An example of Facebook identity theft is the case of a girl named Janice, when she figured out that her roommate was stealing her pictures and uploading it under a Facebook account that her roommate created pretending to be her. She figured this out when a guy named Jason contacted her and told her that he was his online boyfriend for 4 years. Janice never knew the guy, not even online. It turned out that her roommate was the one who had an online relationship with Jason using Janice’s pictures, information, and profile on Facebook.

 

Other forms of Facebook identity theft can happen. With the vast growing members in the social networking site, Facebook safety must be kept in mind all the time to avoid these instances of Facebook identity theft.

 

Here are 3 basic tips for your Facebook safety that are applicable to anyone wanting to avoid Facebook identity theft.

 

Facebook Safety Rule #1 – Keep your personal information private; as much as possible do not include personal contact information, addresses, and especially your bank account details

 

Facebook Safety Rule #2 – Never send money to anyone who asks for it on the Internet; People might use your    personal information for transactions which you are not aware of.

 

Facebook Safety Rule #3 – Once you’ve joined Facebook, know that there is a risk for Facebook identity theft.

 

If you’re looking for a little extra protection from identity theft threats against you or your loved ones, you might want to check out our enhanced identity theft services. Stay safe

 

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Protect Your Bubble is Proud to be the Presenting Sponsor at the 2013 Party Rock Open

 

Party Rock OpenParty Rock Open, the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit female tennis event, returns to Las Vegas this year at the Darling Tennis Center.  The event will take place September 22 – 29, and Protect Your Bubble is excited to be a part of this fantastic event.

 

Party Rock Open, originally named “Lexus of Las Vegas Open” was founded by Tyler Weekes of Courtthink, LLC. He co-directs the tournament with WTA-certified player agent Jordan Butler.  The tournament began its journey in 2009 changing its name to Party Rock Open came to be when Weekes, taught tennis to Redfoo (Stefan Kendal Gordy), leader of the pop group LMFAO, and after some negotiations, Redfood agreed to have his Party Rock clothing line be the new title sponsor of the event.  The players will compete on hard courts in an outdoor setting in the Darling Center in the heart of Las Vegas. The tournament will feature both singles and doubles events. This year, we’re geared up to see challenging matches guaranteed to keep fans at the edge of their seats.

 

Right now, acceptance sheet shows 20 main draw players, 26 qualifying players and 87 alternates, a few of the players include Alisa Kleybanova (former top 20 player), Camila Giorgi (2013 U.S. Open Rd of 16), Andrea Hlavackova (2013 U.S. Open Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles Champion), and Tamira Paszek (2012 Wimbledon Quarter-Finalist)…just to name a few! Indeed, quite a strong player list for this years’ Party Rock Open tournament.

 

We’re excited to be part of Party Rock Open. If you plan to attend, be sure to look for our sponsor table and come say hello! For more information about Party Rock Open, visit the official website at www.partyrockopen.com. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for your chance to receive VIP tickets to the event (that’s a $250 value)!

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4 Pieces Of IRS Identity Theft Advice That You’ll Want To Remember

As identity theft becomes an increasingly large problem in the United States, we’re seeing several government agencies devote additional resources to fight this criminal epidemic. The IRS has set up shop as the official go-to authority on identity-related crimes, with over 3,000 employees working cases on a full-time basis.

 

If you’re looking to clear your name and credit history after an attack, or you’re interested in doing everything possible to prevent one in the first place, the IRS has a library of information available. To sum up some important points, here are 4 facts from the IRS’ identity theft database that you’ll want to be fully aware of:

 

1.     The IRS Will Never Send Electronic Communications Asking For Your Personal Information

You’ll never get an email, text, tweet, or electronic message of any kind from the IRS that asks you to provide any kind of personal information. Official correspondence will come to you via old-fashioned mail, and if the requested information can be filled out online, you’ll always be directed to an official government website with a “.gov” ending; everything else can safely be assumed to be fraudulent.

 

2.     Groups Posing As The IRS Can Be Reported Immediately Online

The IRS’s anti-phishing page allows you to report any electronic message you receive asking you for sensitive personal info, as well as a host of other possible issues. It’s a good idea to hit them up if you’ve received any kind of suspect material—and if you’ve accidentally replied to any of these messages, you’ll definitely want to let the IRS know right away.

 

3.     Fraudulent Tax Returns Are Increasing Every Year

These occur when someone steals your social security number and then files a tax return on your behalf that’s sent to the attacker, or when someone uses your social security number to get a job and their return gets filed, making it look as if you have income that you didn’t report to the IRS with your legitimate return, which triggers an audit.

 

Oftentimes, your first warning of this kind of identity theft is after you’ve filed your return, when the IRS informs you that a return has already been filed in your name, or when you’re officially informed of an impending audit. It’s always a good idea to get your taxes done as early in the year as possible, and always be vigilant about where your W-2 forms go, and who has access to them.

 

4.     If You Have Information About An Identity Thief, You Can Report It To the IRS Immediately

While phishing scams and other forms of invasion can certainly be responsible for your personal information getting stolen, many times you may actually know the attacker personally.  An acquaintance, co-worker, former business associate, former spouse, or many others may have stolen your identity, and you may be aware of the fact. If that’s the case, you can report the relevant information to the IRS here, at their Internet Crime Complaint Center. They’ll make a formal account of your case and forward it to the law enforcement officials that have the appropriate jurisdiction. Additionally, you’ll get a head start on thwarting your attacker’s spending spree, and letting the IRS know of an identity attack will make it much harder for them to try and file a fraudulent tax return on your behalf.

 

If you’re looking for a little extra protection from identity theft threats against you or your loved ones, you might want to check out our enhanced identity theft services. Stay safe out there!

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3 Personal Records To Protect During Tax Season

 

Tax season is a hectic time for most people. All of the forms, receipts, statements, and other documents necessary to file your return are passed around by employers, family members, accountants, and more. Unfortunately, this shuffling of personal information can also be a draw for more unfriendly eyes.

 

Instances of identity theft are at a yearly high around tax season, with thousands of opportunists taking advantage of the surplus of sensitive financial records being sent back and forth. While you prepare for another year of tax payments—or hopefully refunds—here are 3 important documents to always keep an eye on:

 

W-2 Forms

The W-2 is obviously important to everyone who earns an income in the United States—and therefore not likely to get tossed in the trash—but what you might not realize is how many electronic copies of this form exist on the web. Filing your taxes online, sending a scanned copy as an attachment to your accountant, or even discussing parts of your W-2 in an email to a family member are all ways you inadvertently make a digital copy of this document that may be vulnerable to a motivated criminal.

 

The combination of your name, legal address, Social Security number, employer, and other sensitive information makes your W-2 form a very attractive target for identity thieves, so while you carefully file your print copy in your home filing cabinet, make sure you know how many electronic versions have been created, and where they’ve been sent.

 

Receipts And Invoices Used For Tax Write-Offs

If you run a small business or work in a job where you have a lot of expenses, tax season is the time when you dig out a year’s worth of receipts and get them ready for a potential audit. This may include scanning and uploading them to a potentially unsafe online account, or even losing a folder or shoebox of them on your way to your accountant’s office. Most receipts won’t have enough personal info on them to be a genuine threat to you, but a few of them—such as receipts from a hotel or a charity—may have your name and address, which is a pretty sensitive combination these days.

 

Your full name and legal address gives a possible identity thief a baseline needed to begin sniffing around your presence on the Internet, such as your various social media accounts, business press releases, birth announcements, and other news article published online. This can give an attacker important personal information that is commonly used by banks and other financial accounts to verify your identity, such as your city of birth, mother’s maiden name, sports you played in high school, and much more. So remember to keep any receipt with your name and address on it under careful guard.

 

1099 Forms

The 1099 miscellaneous income form can come from a wide variety of people and institutions, some of which you may be unaware are sending you one in the first place. Independently contracted clients, banks in which you have a savings account that is earning interest, stock portfolios that pay yearly dividends, federal unemployment payouts, and dozens of other sources may be sending you a 1099 form this year, which has the same personal info as a W-2. If you’re someone who gets a lot of correspondence, it can be easy to accidentally throw one of these 1099s out with the junk mail, giving an enterprising thief a chance at a form that has all of your vital information listed on it.

 

With a little planning and attention, you can keep all of your important tax season records away from any prying eyes that mean to do you harm. If you’re interested in a more thorough option, you can always acquire protection against identity theft. As an Identity Theft Services provider, we at Protect Your Bubble can help protect you against all the possible mishaps that can result from your financial life falling into the wrong hands, giving you a powerful partner in keeping your identity secure. Reach out to us at 1-866-367-7579 if we can answer any questions for you.

 

Photo credit: niseag03 via Flickr.com

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3 Important Identity Theft Protection Takeaways from the Celebrity Hacking Scandal

You’ve probably seen the news recently regarding the celebrity hacking scandal. A ring of hackers attacked the private information of some high profile celebrities and politicians including Michelle Obama, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. The fact that even wealthy famous people aren’t immune to identity theft has left Americans worried about their own safety.

 

While it doesn’t seem like these hackers are interested in attacking the regular Joe Schmoe’s out there, the fact that there are extremely smart and ruthless hackers out there is very scary.

 

The hackers didn’t actually hack anything. Using private information, the celebrity hackers were able to pretend to be the victims and then obtain a legitimate credit report from a free report site credit. The private social security numbers, credit reports, addresses and phone numbers of more than a handful of celebrities and politicians were then posted online for the whole world to see.

 

What does this mean for you?

In 2012, 12.6 million US adults were victims of identity theft. You aren’t immune. Whether you’re a celebrity or not, protecting your identity has become more and more essential in today’s technology-driven world. There are some essential ways to protect yourself and your private information. As an identity theft services provider, we’ve put together 3 important identity protection tips that you should follow:

 

1.  Become best friends with a shredder: Identity theft doesn’t happen solely online. There are still old school criminals that will go through your garbage to get your private information. If you don’t shred all sensitive documents, you are putting your identity at risk. Shred all documents containing private information including anything from utility bills to bank statements. Better safe than sorry!

 

2. Look for the “S”: When entering private information such as addresses, social security numbers and credit card numbers, only do so on sites that begin with “https” and not just “http”. The “S” means it’s a secure site and your information is protected.  

 

3. Get Identity Theft Protection-Identity theft service providers, such as us at Protect Your Bubble, offer affordable protection that empowers you to take control. You’ll get email notifications if someone uses your information to open a new account and Protect Your Bubble monitors all three credit bureaus to keep a close eye on what’s happening with your private information. If you are a victim of identity theft, you can trust in Protect Your Bubble to resolve the issues that arise including cancelling credit cards, helping you submit legal statements, and investigating bank fraud. The resolution services also extend to members of your household and go beyond simple credit monitoring.  For example: what would you do if open your mailbox one day and see an invoice for a medical procedure you do not recognize?  Protect Your Bubble will jump in and begin clearing things up for you immediately.

 

With identity theft protection, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s better to focus on preventing identity theft, rather than trying to deal with it once it happens. Following the above tips will help keep your private information safe and you’ll be less likely to deal with identity theft issues like the celebrity hacking victims are currently dealing with.

 

 

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