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4 Tips To Help Notaries Protect Themselves From Tax ID Theft

Income tax tips for Notaries

A  Social Security number and tax information is a quick ticket to fraud for someone seeking to claim a false tax refund or worse. Bruce Dorris, vice president and program director with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), offers the following tips to help Notaries stay ahead of would-be identity thieves during tax season:

1. File taxes as soon as possible.
 

People who put off filing their taxes until the last minute face much greater security risks. “Fraudsters may try to claim a refund using your identity before you have a chance to submit a legitimate claim,” Dorris says. “By filing early, you beat them to the punch — at least this year.”

2. Don’t trust suspicious phone calls or emails.
 

A common scam involves a swindler contacting the victim, claiming to be from the IRS and asserting that the taxpayer owes money and must pay immediately. They ask for bank account, credit card or other financial information. “This isn’t the way the IRS operates, and no one should ever provide such information over the phone or via email,” Dorris says.

3. Check your credit history.
 

Free credit reports are available at annualcreditreport.com. Data in this report can indicate whether a tax imposter has used your identity for nefarious purposes beyond just the refund fraud. “Reviewing your credit report can tip you off if anyone has been opening lines of credit in your name,” Dorris says. “Make sure all of your information is accurate and includes only those accounts and transactions you have authorized.”

4. Report anything suspicious.
 

Emails purporting to be from the IRS, strange phone calls, odd notes on your credit report — any of these can be telltale signs of attempted fraud. “If you receive a notice from the IRS that you filed more than one tax return or someone has already filed using your information, that’s a big red flag,” Dorris says.

Protecting Your Notary Business From ID Theft

Notary entrepreneurs should also take steps to make sure their business information is protected against ID thieves. The Identity Theft Resource Center recommends:

  • Making sure your IT systems are protected with anti-virus and anti-malware software, and updating your software regularly.
  • Implementing clear workplace policies for employees who handle sensitive data — both electronic records and physical documents. For example, set rules to ensure any business emails or important documents sent to employee mobile phones or devices are kept secure.
  • Making sure any personal identifying information from employees and customers is handled securely in the workplace and disposed of safely when no longer needed. Many small business data breaches involve an employee or sensitive data that was disposed of carelessly and discovered by someone else.

Also, if you’re informed that you have a mysterious balance due or that you received wages from an employer you have not worked for, it’s time to contact the IRS, he says. Call their Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

If you have been a victim, create an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as soon as possible.

“Having a record on file will help you repair the damage to your credit report and deal with any creditors who are attempting to collect on fraudulent charges,” Dorris says. “It will also place an extended security alert on your credit report, which helps prevent further fraudulent activity moving forward.”

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