Business & Finance

Guest Column

Preparing For Tax Time: 5 Things You Can Do To Protect Your Identity

d51f71d4f47381174e7b_5fe8eb59e418936d7152_IMG_4764.JPG
d51f71d4f47381174e7b_5fe8eb59e418936d7152_IMG_4764.JPG

While we may never truly know how many Americans have been the victim of identity theft, one thing is for sure, just about everyone knows someone, or is that someone who has been affected.  

With tax season now in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service says that it expects to process 153 million returns this year.

Taxpayers will have until April 18, 2017, to file and pay their taxes this year.  April 15th falls on a Saturday this year, which would normally give taxpayers until the following Monday.  Since a D.C. holiday, Emancipation Day, falls on April 17th, this gives all taxpayers an extra day to file.

Sign Up for E-News

According to irs.gov, “in 2015, the IRS reportedly stopped 1.4 million confirmed identity theft returns and protected $8.7 billion of your tax dollars.”  The numbers are staggering but there is hope! 

Tax-related identity theft is when someone uses your stolen social security number to file a fraudulent income tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.

So what is the IRS doing to protect identity theft-related refund fraud? 

The Security Summit, an IRS task force designed to curtail identity theft, has been working behind the scenes to establish stronger protections for taxpayers and the tax system for the 2017 tax filing season.  

Just know that there are many safeguards which have been put into place that will tackle tax-related identity theft from all angles.  The taxpayer may not be privy to the new security measures but new security requirements were designed to more effectively protect taxpayer’s personal information and tax software accounts.

There are certain measures you can take now to safeguard your identity.  

Here are 5 things you can do to protect your identity during tax season.

Secure All Personal Records – Shred all documents with your personal address, bank account and social security numbers, birth date, and any other sensitive information.  Do not provide sensitive information via email or via text message.  Leave your social security card at home and do not routinely carry it in your purse or wallet.  Be sure to install the latest anti-virus/anti-spam software and firewall to protect your computer data.  Periodically change internet passwords.

Beware of Scams – Beware of anyone purporting to be the IRS in a threatening phone call or email demanding that you make payment or face a lawsuit or be arrested.  The IRS will normally communicate with you in correspondence in the mail.  Beware of companies posing as your bank or credit card providers.  When in doubt, hang up and call the company back directly! Do not download attachments or click links from any unfamiliar email sources.

Educate Yourself – The IRS has launched an educational awareness campaign “Our Taxes. Security. Together. “ on the importance of securing your sensitive information online and at home.   Visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/taxes-security-together for more details on this initiative. 

Speak Up –You must do your part to help the IRS identify tax schemes and alleged criminals.  If you receive suspicious phone calls and emails that you believe to be fraudulent, report them.  You can visit irs.gov and click on How to Report Suspicious Tax Fraud Activity.

Report Identity Theft to IRS – If you suddenly file your income tax return and find out that someone else has filed a return using your social security number, chances are you have been a victim of identity theft! 

The IRS recommends the following five steps:

“File your taxes by paper and pay any taxes owed.

“File an IRS Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit.  Print the form and mail or fax it according to the instructions.  You may include it with your paper return.”

“File a report with the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant.”

“Contact one of the three credit bureaus so they can place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your account.”

File a police report.

Carletta Beckwith CPA LLC is a firm that provides premiere income tax preparation, tax planning, and financial planning services. Carletta Beckwith is a licensed CPA and CFP and shares her extensive industry knowledge to deliver superior customer service and personalized attention to her clients.  To learn more about the services she provides visit www.beckwithcpa.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Franklin Township

Franklin Republicans take part in Somerset County reorganization

June 17, 2018

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - The Franklin Township Republican Committee participated in a second meeting this week. On Monday night, June 11th, the Committee met for its own reorganization meeting. The very next night on Tuesday, June 12th several Committee members traveled to Hillsborough to meet at the Peter J. Biondi Municipal Building for the Somerset County reorganization.

Al Gaburo, who is a ...

Bridgewater Police: Avoid Mall for Ongoing Police Investigation

June 14, 2018

UPDATE: According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall will be resuming normal business operations.

Police emphasized that there is no immediate threat to the public and no injuries were reported.

Keep checking back for more information.

Related article: Bridgewater Mall Shut Down ...

Students Lead ‘Die-In’ at Congressman Lance’s Westfield Office; Summit Boy Arrested

WESTFIELD, NJ — Seventeen-year-old Summit High School student Ben Schachter was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday during a gun safety “die-in” protest led by local high school students at Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office. Lance was not present at the office at the time.

Read: Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman Talks Gun Violence, School Safety, ...

Dozens of Highland Park Residents Rally Against Recent ICE Detainment of Neighbor, Father of 4

Dozens of community members rallied in front of The Reformed Church of Highland Park on Friday afternoon to voice their opposition towards the recent detainment of local resident Cloyd Edralin by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The rally was planned just four days after Edralin, 47, a green card holder from the Philippines and father to four children who are U.S. citizens, was ...

Hillsborough teacher charged with ‘sexual conduct’ with student

NEW BRUNSWICK - A Plainsboro man and tenured English teacher at Hillsboro High School was being held in the Middlesex County jail today on charges of having improper contact with a 17-year-old student that occurred over a period of five months, authorities said today.

Kenneth Shindle, 27, is charged with one count of engaging in sexual conduct that would impair or debauch the morals of the ...

$200K Police Settlement a 'Total Disgrace,' Reiner Says

RARITAN TWP., NJ – A recent TAPinto report that $200,000 was paid to a former township man after he filed a federal suit alleging excessive force by police here prompted a passionate defense of township police by Committeeman Louis Carl Reiner at last night’s Township Committee meeting.

The suit was filed by Dennis Shuman against the township Police Department and several of its ...

Raritan Twp. Paid $200K to Settle 'Excessive Force' Lawsuit

RARITAN TWP., NJ – The township has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in federal court against its police.

The suit was filed by Dennis Shuman against the township Police Department and Patrol Officers D. S. Carson and Aaron Roth; Lt. Nicholas Buck; Sgt. Scott Lessig; and Police Chief Glenn Tabasko. It alleges assault and battery; negligence; emotional distress; abuse of ...

Bridgewater Police: Avoid Mall for Ongoing Police Investigation

June 14, 2018

UPDATE: According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall will be resuming normal business operations.

Police emphasized that there is no immediate threat to the public and no injuries were reported.

Keep checking back for more information.

Related article: Bridgewater Mall Shut Down ...

Students Lead ‘Die-In’ at Congressman Lance’s Westfield Office; Summit Boy Arrested

WESTFIELD, NJ — Seventeen-year-old Summit High School student Ben Schachter was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday during a gun safety “die-in” protest led by local high school students at Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office. Lance was not present at the office at the time.

Read: Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman Talks Gun Violence, School Safety, ...

Dozens of Highland Park Residents Rally Against Recent ICE Detainment of Neighbor, Father of 4

Dozens of community members rallied in front of The Reformed Church of Highland Park on Friday afternoon to voice their opposition towards the recent detainment of local resident Cloyd Edralin by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The rally was planned just four days after Edralin, 47, a green card holder from the Philippines and father to four children who are U.S. citizens, was ...

Summer Camp Programs for Children and Teens Announced By Environmental Education Center

June 15, 2018

BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Each summer, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge holds programs that let children and teens explore nature for summer activities that both entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the environment.

The programs are organized and led by the EEC's staff of naturalists.

The EEC is a Somerset County facility located at 190 Lord ...

Somerset County Employees' Health Center Opens in Somerville

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and officials from Integrity Health gathered for a June 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new health care facility on East Main Street.

The Somerset County Partnership Health Center (SCPHC) will serve as an on-site health, wellness and care coordination center for employees of Somerset County, the county park commission, the ...

Long May It Wave: Somerville Elks' Festival Salutes American Flag

SOMERVILLE, NJ The Somerville Elks are hosting their annual salute to America, patriotism and the American Flag  June 15 on the green adjacent to the historic Somerset County Courthouse on East Main Street, beginning at 5 p.m.

The Flag Day Country Music Festival features “Big Hix,” a country/western tribute cover band that takes the stage at 7 p.m. for a free 90-minute ...

Summer Camp Programs for Children and Teens Announced By Environmental Education Center

June 15, 2018

BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Each summer, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge holds programs that let children and teens explore nature for summer activities that both entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the environment.

The programs are organized and led by the EEC's staff of naturalists.

The EEC is a Somerset County facility located at 190 Lord ...

Somerset County Employees' Health Center Opens in Somerville

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and officials from Integrity Health gathered for a June 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new health care facility on East Main Street.

The Somerset County Partnership Health Center (SCPHC) will serve as an on-site health, wellness and care coordination center for employees of Somerset County, the county park commission, the ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...