Archive for August 2015

Protect yourself from tax identity theft

This year more than any other year, the IRS is seeing a huge increase in identity theft with tax returns. Previously, taxpayer identity theft was at 3%. This year the IRS is reporting closer to 20%. I’ve seen very, very few identity thefts in my time as CPA, but this year alone I’ve had over 60 customers encounter an issue.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security Number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Generally, an identity thief will do so early in the year. You may be unaware you are a victim until you try to file your taxes and learn one already has been filed using your SSN!

If the IRS notifies you with a letter stating that more than one tax return was filed or if your IRS records indicate you received wages from an unknown employer, your identity may have been compromised.

Steps to take after you become a victim

1. File a report with law enforcement.

2. Report identity theft at ftc.gov/complaint and learn how to respond to it at identitytheft.gov.

3. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:

4. Contact your financial institutions, and close any accounts opened without your permission or tampered with.

5. Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually. You can create an account online at www.ssa.gov.

6. Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then mail or fax according to instructions.

Reduce your risk before you become a victim

  • Check your credit report annually.
  • Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and regularly change passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or the Internet unless you have either initiated the contact or are sure you know who is asking.

Now more than ever, identity theft insurance is extremely important. I’ve seen clients have great success with LifeLock.

Also, I recommend freezing your credit when you don’t need it checked and lock your kids’ credit until they’re 18 years old. Additionally, immediately freeze the credit of a loved one who has recently passed away. These are easy targets for identity thieves.

It’s the process, not the result

running-raceHave you ever sat back and considered how great the process of life is compared to the end result of what you’re trying to achieve? We are an outcome based society, we’re not into the process, and that’s not good!

What happens is when we become outcome based is we’ll start to look at our own relationships and ask “what can you do for me?” That really leads to a shallow existence for everyone. You end up burning through friends and no deep relationships ever develop. We become a mile wide and an inch deep.

Focus on the process, not the outcome. If you focus on the process, the outcome will be what you want it to be, it just takes a little bit of time.

When you enjoy the process, you develop friendships and depth. If I’m outcome based, I’m going to leverage your abilities for my outcome. If I’m process based I’m going to enjoy the process and enjoy life more. I still leverage your abilities for my gain, but I get to do it with a smile. If I’m an inch deep but a mile wide, I still get what I want, but if I have more depth I get what I want and enjoy the process.

Jesus was so relational with everyone he encountered. He was always looking for value of each individual. But it wasn’t about the outcome, it was about the process. He wanted to get to know everyone and share his love for others.

I strive to be like Him and hope others see Him through me. I want those I interact with to say “there’s something about Jay that makes me want to hang out with him. There’s something about him that makes me want more.”

I encourage you to focus less on the outcome and enjoy the process of life and living.