Helpful Tips from Brian Winters, Director of IT

  1. Create strong passwords and regularly change them
    1. The longer the password, the more secure
    2. Don’t use the same password across all platforms. LastPass can be used to track passwords (
    3. Answers to security questions don’t have to be logical (i.e. mother’s maiden name). This is all a theft needs to enter your account and change your password. Answer unconventionally- “grapefruit”.
  2. Consider the security of websites where you enter personal/financial information
    1. Keep personal information such as address and phone number off social media sites
  3. Travel
    1. Suggest staying off of airport WIFI, especially in foreign countries
    2. Use burner phone if traveling to places like China or Russia
  4. Email
    1. Be wary of abnormal communication or communication that doesn’t “feel” right
    2. Don’t open unknown attachments or click unknown links- right click to check validity of email address/sender
    3. IRS will never make first contact with taxpayers by email or phone, they will mail you a letter. The same is true for the AL Dept. of Revenue. If you receive mail correspondence from the IRS or AL Dept. of Revenue, please pass along to JMF and we will assist you.

Tax ID Theft

  • In recent years we have seen a rise in tax identity theft.
  • Tax ID theft occurs when someone steals your SSN and files a return under your name to claim a fraudulent refund.
  • Some people may not know they have been the victim of tax ID theft until they file their tax return. Or, you may receive a notice from the IRS alerting you of suspicious activity.
  • Contact our office and we can help resolve the issue

What to do if you suspect identity theft

  1. Call your financial institutions immediately
  2. Change passwords
  3. Review bank/credit card statements and credit report for fraudulent activity
  4. Contact your local police department
    1. It’s important to show that you go on record for protecting against other claims
  5. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (
    1. They provide a thorough step by step checklist including sample letters for disputing a claim
  6. Consider hiring an attorney to help clear the credit issues
  7. Sign up for a credit monitoring service
    1. Some companies offer complimentary credit monitoring service to victims of security breech
    2. Lifelock or other similar services