My data may have been stolen!
December 4, 2020 11:12 AM   Subscribe

What other proactive steps can I take to protect myself in case of stolen financial data?

Our condo's parking garage was broken into, and several storage units in the garage, including ours, were broken into as well. Nothing of actual monetary value was stolen, but we did notice that several boxes were rifled through, including one with previous year tax records in it.

We couldn't locate every prior year we should have had in the box, and while there are a few other places we need to look in order to be sure, I'm operating under the assumption that someone stole at least one year's worth of tax returns and supporting information. It does not appear that anything like bank account/credit card/debit card numbers were taken (nothing in that box would suggest that such information was present there), just tax returns. We owed money for the year that is missing, so there's no bank account info on that return.

We have had credit freezes with all three agencies in place for about four years now, so that's not a worry, but the fact that someone has our social security numbers does not thrill me. What steps can I take to further protect against fraudulent use of our information? What am I not thinking about?

And yes, our storage unit has been reinforced. We thought it was secure enough with the extra lock we had on it in addition to the one lock it was built to carry, but the door was brute-forced in a way that we did not anticipate being possible. That weakness has been addressed. As has the keeping of financial records in our storage unit. So I'm not so worried about another theft, just mostly about what happens with our SSN's out in the wild.
posted by pdb to Work & Money (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Keep an eagle eye on your postal mail. If someone tries to do an unemployment fraud with your info, there's a good chance something will hit your mailbox. Same thing: alert the HR department where you work and let them know your personal data has been compromised. If they get a claim letter from the state in your name they can respond swiftly that it's fraudulent.

Check your account on at least annually if you don't already. Make sure your info is accurate and up to date, and make sure that the reported earnings are yours and yours alone.

Follow anything the FTC recommends.
posted by phunniemee at 11:19 AM on December 4, 2020

Best answer: It won't be available until next month, but when it is, apply for an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS. From the article: "The IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent the misuse of their Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns."
posted by davcoo at 11:34 AM on December 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

These may be in phunniemee's link but:
You'll also want to freeze your IDs on Chex Systems -- this is what banks use when opening a new account.

If you apply for online access to your SSA account, you can then set up 2FA for it, this will prevent someone from applying for government benefits in your name.

I'm assuming you already have 2FA for your regular bank accounts.
Also, watch our for SIM theft -- if your phone starts acting funny, raise hell immediately.
posted by Dashy at 3:35 PM on December 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

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