How Your CPA Can Help Stop Identity Theft

The thought of identity theft is scary, but during tax season, identity theft becomes a nightmare for almost 450,000 people, and it is increasing every year. The IRS processes 145 million returns in a year. Almost 109 million of the claims are refunds, and average $3,000. This makes tax returns a prime target for any would be thief. It is important to know how to protect yourself during tax season to prevent the worst from happening.

Identity theft has devastating consequences. It will delay taxpayer refunds, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused for loans, housing, cars, and can even be arrested for crimes that they did not commit. The most common ways thieves obtain information is through email or phone phishing and dumpster diving. Thieves are looking for personal information, such as, bank records and credit card receipts.

If your identity is stolen, several steps should be taken. First, file a report with the police. Close any bank or credit cards accounts affected. Inform credit bureaus and consider freezing credit accounts. A freeze restricts access to the credit reports and prevents thieves from opening other accounts with the stolen information. The IRS has a form (Form 14039) that needs filled out if your identity was stolen anytime during the year. Make sure that you answer all IRS notices immediately, using the name and number printed on the notice.

To prevent identity theft, shred any mail that has personal information on it before throwing it away. Watch credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. If working with a CPA, forward any emails that appear to be from the IRS to them and do not click on any of the links before forwarding the email. Keep your SSN safe; do not give it out, store the card in a secure place. Protect your home computer with firewall, anti-spam, and anti-virus software and update regularly. Change passwords to bank and credit cards sites regularly.

None of this is a guarantee that your identity is safe, but the more you safeguard your personal information the better chances you have of not being a victim.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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Tips for picking a CPA

Mike Crowley | Crowley Halloran CPA

Michael W. Crowley, CPA - Principal

One of the most critical decisions anyone can make is picking a good-quality, reliable accountant. There are several things to keep in mind when a business owner chooses an accounting firm. Many accountants are excellent, but are they going to meet your business needs?

There are a few basic tips to keep in mind, as a business owner, when choosing a CPA firm:

Certification: The CPA should meet all the states requirements and passed the required exam. It is important that an accountant has met all the requirements and even continues their education to stay certified. It is the best way to know that they are current in all the new procedures and tax laws.

Experience: Make sure the accountant or CPA firm is experienced in the business field that your business specializes in. It is important that they know what the unique business needs are and how to handle any problems that may arise. They should have worked with that business industry before or something very similar.

Size: While the larger, more popular CPA firms may be ok, do not over look the smaller firms. The larger firms can probably take care of all the business needs and more, but the smaller firms will offer a more personalized approach. Many of the larger firms will contract out the smaller firms to work on small accounts anyway, so why not start with the local, smaller firm and go from there. Just make sure they meet the requirements that your business needs.

Get a Referral: One of the most important factors to finding a good, reliable CPA is to get a referral. Ask your friends, family, co-workers and other business owners to see who they would recommend. The best reference usually comes from word of mouth.

Once all the references have been compiled, do some research on the CPA firm and then ask to meet them and conduct an interview. Ask questions and find the right fit for you. Remember your CPA is to be one of your most trusted advisors, so make sure they are the right fit for you and your business.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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