This time of year, you're under enough stress thinking about how much money you owe the Internal Revenue Service. So, you may not be thinking about your online security.
Yet, this time of year is precisely when you really need to ramp up the protection of your identity. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has released shocking information about identity theft.
It turns out that in 2015, ID theft surged 47% over 2014, to 490,220 cases reported to the FTC. Of those, about half were tax or wage identity theft. Those cases of ID theft more than doubled, from 109,250 in 2014, to 221,854 in 2015.
The FTC is taking steps to combat ID theft. Among its actions, during its "Identity Theft Awareness Week," is the debut of its improved website, IdentityTheft.gov. The site is meant to provide an easy way for you to report ID theft to the government.
"The upgraded site, which is mobile and tablet accessible, offers an array of easy-to-use tools, that enables identity theft victims to create the documents they need to alert police, the main credit bureaus and the IRS, among others," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, recently told reporters. "Identity theft victims can now go online and get a free, personalized identity theft recovery plan."
The FTC is also taking steps to ensure that your ID is safe when you're on the site. The site, for instance, doesn't request your driver's license or Social Security numbers. The FTC also uses multi-step authentication when people request a recovery plan. Two- or multi-step authentication requires you to input a secret, one-time security code, in addition to your password.
It's nice the FTC is creating tools to prevent and minimize the effects of identity theft. However, there are still hundreds of companies and organizations that have your information who don't care nearly as much. Protect yourself with a credit monitoring service.