Downs & Associates is a full service CPA firm with an emphasis on individuals, small and medium size businesses, not-for-profit organizations and governmental accounting and auditing. We provide general ledger services, monthly financial statement preparation and payroll and payroll tax preparation.
Identity Theft: Protect Yourself and Be Aware
Since the beginning of the internet," identity theft protect yourself" has been an issue for anyone who surfs for pleasure or business, and even those of us who don't go online for any reason. Thieves who plan to steal our identities for their own profit have developed a number of scams and tricks designed to fool us into giving out personal information. Everyone should know the most common tricks, so we all have at least a basic understanding about how identity theft works, both on and offline, in front of the computer, as well as in our everyday lives. One of the most popular scams is called "phishing", pronounced "fishing", and that's exactly what it comes down to. Thieves fish for information. Protecting yourself from identity theft means being able to decide when one of these criminals is trying to reel you in to get your personal information. Have you ever received an email urging you to reply, otherwise your bank account or credit card may be suspended? If so, you've just been solicited by a technique known as "phishing." These emails request you to submit information like your card number and your PIN to confirm your identity. However, most emails sent out by phishers have misspellings and bad grammar. A careful eye is all you need in protecting yourself from identity theft. In another scam, not involving the internet, a crook may approach you with a story that he or she is a bank employee, and that you've been selected to help in the investigation of a dishonest teller. The person pulling the old "bank examiner scam" tells you that the manager will get in touch with you, and that you will withdraw your own money for the investigation. The story is really about identity theft. Remember that law enforcement would never ask you to use your money for an investigation -- and identity theft protect yourself means turning the cops onto the people who asked you to do so. Also, never give out personal credit card information to anyone who claims to need information to investigate a fraudulent transaction. Thieves use this con tactic to play on people's fear of losing their identity. Never give out personal information or sensitive data on the phone. There is no harm in hanging up and calling the credit card company at a number you know is legitimate to confirm or denounce any suspicions. Sometimes protecting yourself from identity theft involves simply being leery of phone fraud.