The massive Equifax data breach may seem like last year’s news. Unfortunately, the ramifications continue as we move further into 2018. Let’s talk about the potential impact to your tax return filing and an important date to be aware of regarding free credit report freezes.
Don’t Wait To File Your Taxes
We’re at the beginning of the US tax return filing season, and the Equifax breach means a bit of extra vigilance is required. The breach that affected millions exposed Social Security numbers that criminals could use to file fraudulent returns and pocket refunds.
KrebsonSecurity recently highlighted the need to file before scammers file for you and the challenges around filing early in the season. Some helpful advice from the site:
- It’s hard to file early when you’re waiting for tax forms such as 1099 forms in the mail. Many organizations will provide these forms earlier via online service. If you’re leary about providing personal information to access the forms online, know that the key to reporting 1099 information is to have the correct information. According to Bankrate, “Unlike a W-2, you generally don’t have to attach 1099s to your tax return.” Visit the Bankrate page for more information.
- If you file your taxes electronically and the return is rejected, and if you were a victim of identity theft, you should submit an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039).
- Finally, previous cautions apply. Be alert for phishing emails or websites looking to obtain personal or tax data. As stated on the IRS website: “The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.”
CNBC provides a very comprehensive list of steps you can take to mitigate risks this tax season.
Important Date for Credit Report Freeze
The date to sign up for one year of free credit monitoring through Equifax expired on January 31. After this date, TrustedID Premier will no longer be available to new customers, and it will be discontinued altogether on Jan. 31, 2019. There will be no automatic renewals after your free year ends.
However, Equifax did just extend another important deadline. If you want to freeze your credit report for free at Equifax, the company extended the deadline from January 31 to June 30. You can freeze the report online or by calling Equifax. After June 30, freeze requests may be subject to fees depending on your state.
Finally, Equifax just launched a new free-for-life service – “Lock & Alert” – to allow consumers to lock and unlock their Equifax credit reports, which is similar to a freeze.