Protecting Against Identity Theft

In today's online world, data breaches are common, and scams that target personal or financial information are a constant threat. In recent years, millions of people have been the victims of identity theft.

At Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers in Chattanooga we are committed to keeping our clients informed about how to protect against bad actors who try to use your personal information to commit fraud or other crimes.

Minimizing Your Risks

Even if personal information was lost or exposed, you can still take steps to minimize your risks.

Personal information such as your Social Security number or driver's license data can be lost or exposed in several different ways. It could be due to a data breach, a lost purse or billfold, or someone hacking into one of your online accounts.

It's scary to realize your information has been compromised. But you can still take steps to minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. These include:

  • Credit monitoring — Take advantage of free credit monitoring services offered by a company responsible for a data breach.
  • Credit reports — Get free credit reports to make sure there are no new charges or new accounts you don't recognize.
  • Credit alert or freeze — Placing a fraud alert or credit freeze with the major credit reporting bureaus, to deter someone opening a new account in your name.

Avoiding Debt Collection Or Tax Scams

Scams about unpaid debts occur frequently all year round, with a spike during tax filing season.

Fraudsters often use online phishing scams or abusive phone calls to get personal information or demand immediate payment of debts — even if the person targeted does not have delinquent debt. The scammers pose as IRS agents after unpaid taxes, or as sheriffs trying to collect other types of debt. They may threaten to arrest you if you don't comply.

Don't believe calls like this, and be wary of the emails. Even if you have tax debt, the IRS does not initiate contact by phone or email; instead, the IRS uses the U.S. mail.

It also makes sense to file your taxes early if you think your Social Security number has been exposed to scammers. Filing early helps to prevent a fraudster using your SSN to commit tax refund fraud.

Get More Information

If you are anxious about your exposure to identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission offers useful information.