In the past, on our website and in the Elite course, Notary2Pro has shown you how to protect your clients from ID theft, but did you know that Notaries are also subject to ID theft? The following article delves into a pressing concern for notaries and loan signing agents – tax identity theft. Access to Social Security Numbers and tax information is a scammer’s bread and butter. These pieces of information are the quickest way for someone to commit fraud, file false tax refunds, or even steal your identity.
This article compiled five tips for preventing tax identity theft for all notaries and loan signing agents. Learn how to safeguard your personal and professional information to ensure a secure financial future.
- Staying organized
Staying up-to-date and organized in your notary public and loan signing business is the best deterrent against tax and identity fraud. Keep receipts, invoices, and tax forms in a designated area. In most cases, notary public and loan signing agents are self-employed and keep this information at home, leaving them more susceptible to identity fraud. ALWAYS keep personal information locked away or password encrypted. Do not give guests access to areas you keep your personal information.
- Never disclose personal information.
Never give anyone access to your social security number or tax identification for any reason. The IRS will NEVER ask for a social security number, tax identification information, bank account, credit card, or other financial information over the phone or by email. Be weary of notary and loan signing scams. Do not give your personal information to potential employers until you do your research.
- File Taxes as early as possible
Being proactive is always the greatest practice when owning or managing a business. Filing taxes early may not prevent someone from stealing your tax information, but it will make it easier to catch someone else filing a claim in your name by beating them to it. Start building champion habits by getting your taxes done early!
- Regularly check your credit history
There are a ton of free credit reports available online or through the use of secure mobile applications. Regularly checking your credit report ensures that all of your information is accurate and up to date. You will also be able to identify any unauthorized transactions or accounts. You may even want to invest in credit protect
- Always report suspicious activity
Call and email scams are at an all-time high. Always err on the side of caution. Be very wary of anyone claiming to be the IRS. You should contact the IRS if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:
- More than one tax return for you was filed
- You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return
- IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned
- Your state or federal benefits were reduced or canceled because the agency received information reporting an income change.
If you believe you are a victim of tax identity theft
If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect an imposter is using your identity, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice. If you did not receive a notice but believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit (800-908-4490, extension 245) immediately. The IRS will take steps to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN. Also, fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.
- In addition, we recommend you take additional steps with agencies outside the IRS:
- Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261.
- File a report with the local police.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:
- Equifax – www.equifax.com, 800-525-6285
- Experian – www.experian.com, 888-397-3742
- TransUnion – www.transunion.com, 800-680-7289
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- More information is available at IRS.gov:
- Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft- http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-toIdentity-Theft
A Note From Notary2Pro
We hope these expert tips help protect notaries and loan signing agents from tax identity theft, and ultimately prevent the time, money, stress that accompanies it. Notary2Pro urges notary publics and loan signing agents to familiarize themselves with applicable tax code, always comply with IRS regulations, and to take extreme precautions when it comes to finances and personal information. Invest in identity theft services that monitor suspicious activity. Look for plans with identity theft insurance and that check for three-bureau credit monitoring.
Remember, just as we emphasize safeguarding your own information, it’s equally vital to ensure the security of your clients’ data. For more insights into protecting client information, explore our comprehensive article on this important topic.
Please enroll in Notary2Pro’s Elite course now, the industry’s most respected, recognized, and comprehensive loan signing agent training available.