How to keep your identity personal and safe on the Outer Banks

Whether you are a landlord on the Outer Banks, occasionally rent out your vacation/second home or own your home on the Outer Banks, there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to keeping your identity safe.

There are many ways criminals can get their hands on personal information from property owners, landlords or property management companies. Any information thieves can get their hands on can be used to open a new identity through the IRS and even file a return with your identity.

Many times it isn’t until two returns are filed for one person this time of year, does the real owner find out their personal information isn’t personal any longer.

The IRS has some tips to save you the agony of becoming a victim of this sort of crime.

  1. Stolen purse or wallet is quite obvious, but you can also have your information stolen by logging on an unsecured internet site. Your trash can also be a treasure trove of information, if you don’t shred or dispose of sensitive papers correctly. Another way is by phishing via email or phone calls. NEVER give any credit card or personal information when an email or person asks for it. The best thing to do is to call or contact the company personally with the company’s contact information you already have to make sure it is legit information being requested.
  2. The IRS never never ever initiates contact by email and if you do, the IRS asks to have the email forwarded to [email protected]. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. Or call 1-800-366-4484.
  3. If you receive a letter from the IRS leading you to believe your identity has been stolen, respond immediately to the name, address or phone number on the IRS notice or call 1-800-366-4484.
  4. Your identity may be stolen if a letter from the IRS indicates more than one tax return was filed for you or the letter states you received wages from an employer you don’t know.
  5. If your Social Security number is stolen, it may be used by another individual to get a job. That person’s employer would report income earned to the IRS using your Social Security number, making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return.
  6. Don’t carry your Social Security card or any document(s) with your SSN on it.
  7. Don’t give a business your SSN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
  8. Protect our financial information. Shred / cross shred your documents or have them professionally disposed of – and then get the certificate your information has been properly disposed of.
  9. Check your credit report every 12 months.
  10. Secure personal information in your home.
  11. Protect your personal and business computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches, and change passwords for Internet accounts.
  12. Don’t give personal or business information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

It’s easy to get caught up in having fun and living at the beach on the Outer Banks, but a little prevention now can save you huge amounts of money, time and sanity by keeping your personal information personal and safe.