How Tax Preparers Add Extra Security During Tax Time

privacy filter for tax preparers

 

With tax time comes the increased risk of identity theft. Many accountants and tax preparers ramp up their digital security with malware protection, encryption and high security networks. Yet often visual security is overlooked. The tactic of gleaning information from computer screens in a glance is one of many used by the modern hacker.  A privacy filter is the best way to thwart this information hunting expedition.

Why Privacy Filters Are Not Used

In many instances, workers complaint that privacy filters are inconvenient. After all, sometimes it is necessary to show your screen to a coworker and the privacy screen has to be removed and put back on. For this reason, Fellowes created the PrivaScreen Filter with Quick Reveal Tabs, making the screen easier to attach and remove as needed.

Learn more about PrivaScreen:

Financial Professionals at Risk

Accountants in corporate offices are especially vulnerable. Feeling secure in their department, they lower their guard, reviewing sensitive information on their screens at computers that are within visual range of office traffic areas. And the larger the office the better, as unidentified workers from different departments, mailroom workers and building maintenance can wander through without suspicion. Many IT professionals recommend the use of blackout privacy filters on computer screens company wide. Blackout screens conceal visual content when viewed from side angles, while keeping the straight on views completely clear.

Many independent tax preparers, not having the traffic concerns of a busy corporate office are vulnerable as well. With a storefront office and a steady stream of clients during tax time, a quick glimpse at a screen may go unnoticed. Maintaining security with a privacy screen is a simple and effective measure that minimizes the risk for freelance preparers who can’t afford the liability.

Use the Perfect Fit Selector Tool to find the right size to fit your computer screen.

 

Tips for Protecting the College Bound from Identity Theft

College

There are many worries we can have when kids are off to college, but identity theft doesn’t occur to us something that we should be concerned about. After all, college kids generally don’t have credit, so why would they become targets?

The fact is, people in their twenties make up 20 percent of all identity theft victims, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Their empty credit history is just what identity thieves are looking for–a blank slate means easy credit approvals!

How Does Identity Theft Occur in College? Five Problem Areas and Solutions

  1. Shared spaces

Dorms can be crowded, shared spaces that rely on the trust of roommates. Even if new roomies can seem like friends, the risk of theft is always there. In addition, a single floor of any dorm can house hundred of students who can easily gain access to dorm rooms when they are vacant. Stolen items are bad enough, but ID information can be copied and put back without a student every knowing his or her privacy has been compromised.

Solution: Use an inexpensive safe or even get a safety deposit box at the bank  for Social Security card, birth certificate and other documents you may need, but don’t need to keep around.

  1. Internet purchases

Everyday purchases online is common to most, but for college students the risk of Wi-Fi hacking on campus is increased as identity thieves tap into unsecure Wi-Fi signals to gain access to online credit card transactions. Identity thieves rely on the stats, which indicate that almost 30 percent of college students ignore their checking account and credit card balances.

Solution: Check credit card statements regularly for fraudulent charges.

  1. Too many credit card applications

Credit card companies know college students need money and immediately begin the direct mail campaigns that offer attractive introductory offers targeting college students. Often recipients will toss these applications unshredded into the trash. In fact 49 percent of today’s college students receive frequent applications for credit cards, and 30 percent of those college students throw the applications away in their original condition – that is, with all the personal information intact.

Solution: Keep a dorm shredder. The best shredders for dorms are compact, powerful and can easily shred credit card applications, stapled and paper clipped documents and even credit cards and DVDs.  See Top Dorm Shredders For College Students.

  1. Taking care of campus documentation

Too often college and university campuses rely on Social Security numbers to identify students. This means that college paperwork, student loan documents and other information provided to and from the college can contain confidential information.

Solution: Shred all unnecessary documents. Even if you are not sure that the paperwork contains confidential information or not, using your dorm shredder to destroy it can take only seconds and leaves you with peace of mind.

  1. Keeping electronic screen info private

Shoulder surfing, the technique of peeking over a shoulder to acquire information off a laptop or tablet becomes even more useful to identity thieves in crowded college libraries and cafeterias. It only takes a minute for passwords, user names and even bank account information to be snapped with a phone and used later.

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Solution: Keep tablets and laptops protected with privacy screens. Blackout privacy screens black out the side view image of the screen from either right or left while leaving the frontal view clear. This allows any student to work on electronic devices in public without worry.

See the best privacy screens for college

PrivaScreen_Laptop_Composite

Journal of an Identity Thief

Opportunity Strikes Identity theft isn’t always targeted. It often begins when an opportunity presents itself, like finding an unshredded credit card application that must have blown off of a garbage truck. What does it reveal? A name, an address and a proposed line of credit. american-express-bank-credit-card-wrinkled-paper-flip-book-direct-marketing-326823-adeevee

The Stake Out Now that I know the address, I can watch the house and find out what day they put out their garbage. If they didn’t shred this credit app, they probably have thrown away other unshredded documents that might have value. I wait until nightfall and start diving.

 

100_0836A Small Prize I find an expired car insurance policy. This indicates that they might have recently switched insurance companies. I will come back over the following weeks to keep digging, but for now I can use this.

 

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Gone Phishin’ Their phone number is on the policy. I make a call pretending to be the insurance company and thanking them for renewing their policy. The victim insists there must be some mistake, that the policy was cancelled. I apologize. I validate with their information: name, address, makes and models of cars covered. I know their policy number. I now seem completely legit. To confirm their cancellation I need their social security number….

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Solution

By shredding everything, even documents that seem to contain nothing important, you can avoid becoming an entry in an identity thief’s diary.

130C Auto Feed Shredder

130C Auto Feed Shredder

 

Selecting the right shredder More About Identity Theft  Best Reviewed Shredders