Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Order a copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three national credit-reporting agencies (Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax) to check for inaccuracies and fraudulent use of your accounts. Monitoring your credit card statements and your credit report are the most important steps you can take to safeguard your credit identity.
To order your report from Equifax, call (800) 685-1111, or go to www.equifax.com.
To order your report from Experian, call(888) EXPERIAN (397-3742), or go to www.experian.com.
To order your report from TransUnion, call(800) 916-8800, or go to www.transunion.com.
Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit-reporting agencies; this will limit the number of pre-screened offers of credit you receive in the mail. To do this, call the Credit Reporting Industry opt-out telephone number. The three major credit bureaus use the same toll-free telephone numbers for this service: (800) 353-0809. To receive fewer unsolicited telemarketing calls, you can register for the Direct Marketing Association's Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which allows you to "opt-out" of national telemarketing lists. Contact: Telephone Preference Service Attention: Dept 9301664 Direct Marketing Association P.O. Box 282, Carmel, NY 10512
Additional Ways to Protect Yourself
Do not throw away credit card statements, bills, insurance papers, or bank statements where a criminal could retrieve them from the trash. If you must throw them out, first shred or destroy them.
When making credit card purchases from retailers, ask for credit card carbons if the retailer is not using carbonless forms.
Reduce the number of active credit cards you use. Carry only 1 or 2 cards in your wallet at a time.
Cancel all unused credit card accounts. The account numbers are recorded on your credit report which is full of data that can be used by identity thieves.
Keep a list or copy of all your credit cards with account numbers and expiration dates including telephone numbers for customer service and fraud departments in a secure place (not in your wallet or purse) so you can quickly contact the creditors in case the cards are lost or stolen from your wallet or purse. The speedy notification process will help in alleviating any use of the cards and you can contact customer service anytime day or night.
Be careful before using credit cards on the internet or before providing personal information (such as SSN or DOB) on an electronic application.
Never give out personal or financial information over the phone to anyone who calls to solicit a purchase or donation.
Be wary of anyone calling to "confirm" personal or financial information. Often, these are criminals trying to obtain those facts under the guise of "confirmation".
Protect Passwords and Identification Numbers (Pins)
When creating passwords and PINs, do not use the last four digits of your Social Security number, your birth date, your middle name, your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name, address, consecutive numbers, or anything else that could be discovered easily by thieves.
Ask your financial institution to add extra security protection to your account. Most will allow you to use an additional code (a number or word) when accessing your account. Do not use the passwords and PINs listed above.
Responsible Information Handling
Carefully review your credit card statements and phone bills, including cellular phone bills, for unauthorized charges or fraudulent use. Be aware that under current laws, your local telephone company is obliged to let other carriers use its billing system for a fee. More and more unscrupulous third parties are billing consumers for goods such as special services, calling plans, or memberships that they did not order and do not want. Do not agree to any sale or offer over the telephone when the call is unsolicited and you do not know the caller or the company. Ask that promotional materials be mailed to you instead.
Store your canceled checks in a safe place. In the wrong hands, they could reveal a great deal of information about you, including your account number, telephone number, and driver’s license number.
If Your Purse or Wallet is Stolen
Immediately file a police report and send copies of the report to your bank, credit card companies, and insurance companies.
Cancel credit card and bank accounts and have new accounts opened with new numbers.
Report lost or stolen credit cards to the three national credit-reporting agencies in writing (Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax). This is important because if criminals attempt to fraudulently charge your accounts, you will have established a written record with the credit-reporting agencies of the theft or loss of your cards.
You may also register for free account notifications from creditkarma.com which is designed to notify you if a new account is opened in your name or if there is a problem. LifeLock also provides similar services which are designed to stay a step ahead of anything happening on your credit or financial accounts and contact you immediately for notification or confirmation.
CONSUMER PROTECTION SECTION
30 E. BROAD ST., 14TH FL.
COLUMBUS, OHIO 43215-3400
CONSUMER PROTECTION LINE
Receiving IRS, State of Ohio, State of Michigan, or even correspondence from a city, is natural and should not be so feared. Many of the IRS letters are incorrect in that perhaps the IRS has not received all the information mailed, the City has detached and lost W2s, and so forth.
The State of Ohio has now hired the Ohio Attorney General for collection. The Ohio Attorney General is merely the "collection agency" and cannot make any changes to your return therefore when a taxpayer telephones the OAG, you end up nowhere other than additional frustration as these Agents can not make a decision regarding your matter and will merely forward this information to the State of Ohio, thus further delay your dilemma and possible refund. Therefore, our office bypasses the OAG and goes directly to the State of Ohio to correct an issue and then requests the State of Ohio "update" the OAG. This takes much less time when dealing with the Ohio Dept of Taxation directly. Please allow us to handle this for you.
Please forward any correspondence you receive regarding any tax return, to the office immediately via mail, drop it off at our mailbox by the road "Suite B" or fax it to our office at 419-868-5540 so that the file and the letters can be forwarded to Terri for review. Thereafter, our staff will contact you with Terri's review response.
Filing Married Jointly: Schedule C Businesses
When filing married filing joint, it is important to note that if a spouse has a Schedule C business, the other spouse is held responsible for ANYTHING reported on that return and will be held responsible for any tax associated with the audit change regardless if you are divorced currently from that spouse and regardless if that spouse is deceased at the time of the audit. The IRS accepts no exceptions for death when it comes to taxes! If the surviving spouse has no paperwork or bank statements to support the income and/or deductions on the return then that is too bad as well. The IRS will subpoena any and all bank records to "only prove income" and will disallow any expenses that were reported on the return.
Bank Statements: How Long to Retain
It is VITAL that all bank statements be retained for at least 3 years. The cost for copies from the Bank 3 years down the road is quite overwhelming. Retaining only the bank statements will not support the deductions on your returns because the mere fact that the check shows where it was paid and the fact that it was paid - it doesn't show why it was paid. All canceled checks must be retained as well which is dual backup documentation along with the receipts.
If you deposit loan monies, cashed out bonds, received a distribution from Aunt Nelly's Estate, deposited Grandma's handsome sum of a Christmas gift, sold your coin collection or vehicle, etc. other than your wages; you should document all monies deposited - - in your check register. I also suggest spouse paychecks be documented separately in the check register as this will all be confirmed through audit and having to reconstruct your records 3 years later will prove very difficult and cumbersome or even impossible - therefore the IRS wins as you can't prove your tax position taken. If you can't prove every deposit and total deposits are less than what is shown on your tax return; you will be taxed on under-reported income. Keep your records people!
Storing Important Documents
Obtain a filing cabinet and files to retain all bank statements and receipts annually for ANYTHING deducted on your tax return for at least 3 years. Make sure files are kept in a waterproof cabinet or tote/bin because flood or fire is also no excuse. The IRS Auditor has the final word in determining the validity of any deduction and the Auditor is only required to "prove income".
Also understand that once an IRS audit is complete, the IRS will forward the State agency a RAR which is an IRS "Revenue Agent Report" and you will be taxed and charged P&I on under-reported income by the State as well.
All IRS letters retain priority status in the office. Don't contact the IRS directly or allow IRS access to your home. Please call the office @ 419-868-1040 for assistance!