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  • Patch lady – Make sure your 1099s are private

    Posted on February 11th, 2019 at 22:31 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    A bit off topic to patching – and very much USA centric at this time.  I’ll urge you to review your tax notices (or 1099s) (**) that you should have received – or are receiving – at this time.  Make sure that if they are mailed to you that your bank or sender has blanked out the tax identification number so that only the last four digits are listed.  Make sure that the entire social security number is not listed – especially if you get your tax documents emailed to you insecurely or mailed to you.

    I live in a neighborhood where the mailboxes are out on the street in unlocked mailboxes.  I have recently installed an alert on my mailbox that sends me a text message and email alert every time the door to my mailbox is opened.  Twice since I have installed it, I’ve seen people early in the morning and late at night go down the street opening the doors of the mailboxes obviously looking for tax documents and or refund checks.

    (On a geek note they use Amazon web services notification to send an email and text with the circuit of the magnet is broken when the door to the mailbox is open.  It hooks to my wifi so that I can get the alerts.  Obviously now I need to install a camera that can grab the car license number as someone opens the door to the mailbox as stealing mail is a crime.) 

    Also make sure anything emailed to you doesn’t include your full social security number.  If anyone sends you a document and doesn’t demand that you go through a slightly annoying process of logging into something, or providing a password, or touching your toes, or something else annoying and instead just emails you a pdf of sensitive information that you can read immediately after opening the pdf, so can the attackers.  Complain to any vendor, bank, financial institution and accounting firm and hold them accountable to doing a better job to keeping your identity secure.

    And if you think adding a four digit pin to a pdf helps to make it secure, there are a number of tools that will remove passwords from pdfs in a short amount of time.

    My sister has had tax identity theft and she has to provide a PIN number when she files her tax return.  Unfortunately those of us who have not had our identity stolen through the IRS system can’t get this same multi factor authentication process because the tax computers are a bit too archaic and there isn’t enough funds set aside to afford multi factor authentication for all of us taxpayers (I’m not kidding).

    So my recommendation is to file as early as you can as the person who files earliest (either the identity thieves or you) gets first into the system.

    Remember that the IRS never ever calls you.  Ever.  Nor do they email you.  They also don’t call demanding payment or a credit card number and say that they will be there soon to arrest you.    The IRS audit process is a slow slow process and you will get many things mailed to you over time.  And especially they do not call with a thick foreign accent pretending to be from an area code that could be an IRS center (VOIP can be made to look like it’s from a USA number even when they are calling from overseas).

    So take a look at those tax documents you are getting and see how private they are.  Complain when they aren’t.


    (**)  1099’s is the number of the form that the USA government requires that businesses send to recipients of bank interest, dividends, non employee compensation.  You may also receive your salary on a form W-2 that has your tax identification number.  For anyone overseas, think about any document that gets sent to you that has sensitive information on it.  Do you want it emailed to you just as an email attachment?  If no, take the time to reach out to the sender and ask them that they do something better to protect your information.

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    Home Forums Patch lady – Make sure your 1099s are private

    This topic contains 9 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by

     TaskForce141 2 months ago.

    • Author
    • #325106 Reply

      Susan Bradley
      AskWoody MVP

      A bit off topic to patching – and very much USA centric at this time.  I’ll urge you to review your tax notices that you should have received – or are
      [See the full post at: Patch lady – Make sure your 1099s are private]

      Susan Bradley Patch Lady

      10 users thanked author for this post.
    • #325163 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      Thanks Susan, excellent advice. Also, it is a good idea to file early before scammer do it for us. Here are some interesting links to review:


      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #325208 Reply


      Susan, would changing mailboxes be an option? In Holland where I live, most people who have a mailbox outside their house have one with a lock on it. See The mailman can use it no problem, but unauthorized access by a stranger is not possible.

      ~ Annemarie

    • #325382 Reply


      Sounds like a problem with how the US handles security and privacy of its citizens during tax season. In Canada our mailboxes are locked. Also, the US should seriously change its usage of social security numbers to something more secure. CGP Grey did a great video on how insecure those numbers are. With social security numbers so easily guessable it’s a wonder more people don’t fall victim to identity theft in the US.

    • #325502 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      Annemarie, your link is not viewable to anyone outside the Netherlands.

      I get a 403 error with the long link and even when I shortened it to

      Got coffee?

      • #325755 Reply

        AskWoody MVP

        Curious… US here, and link is okay for me…? I need to translate to English, but otherwise fine?

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

    • #325802 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      Consider signing up for USPS Informed Delivery if you live in the USA and it is available in your area. You also can elect to receive an email message on any day USPS expects to deliver mail addressed to you. The message includes image snapshot attachments for the first three items. The rest are available from their site’s login.  The message starts something like this:

      Informed Delivery Daily Digest
      USPS <> Informed DeliveryCOMING TO YOUR MAILBOX SOON.
      You have mail arriving soon.

      View all mail on dashboard >

      HP Compaq 6000 Pro SFF PC / Windows 10 Pro / 1803
      Intel®Core™2 “Wolfdale” E8400 3.0 GHz / 4.00 GB

      • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by
      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #326788 Reply

        AskWoody Plus

        EyesOnWindow, great tip. I use it and find it very helpful, especially if I’m expecting something like a check or other important document.

    • #327203 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      I am fortunate that I happen to have a locking mailbox. They are great.

      Group A | Windows 7 Pro 64-bit | Windows 10 Pro 1809 64-bit
      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #327990 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      FYI,  to reduce the refund fraud from phony returns using identity theft and wildly false W-2 income data, the IRS asked Congress to restore the old timelines for employer submission of W-2.  The fraudulent returns worked because Congress (stupidly) wanted the IRS to issue refunds, before receipt of employer W-2 data that validates the refund claims.   It was a giant hole and the criminals took full advantage of it for years.

      With fraud reaching the low single $billions, Congress agreed in Dec. 2015.  This provision, which took effect in 2017 (when people were filing their 2016 tax returns), postponed many refunds for about two weeks.  No refund will be made to a taxpayer before February 15, if the taxpayer claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit on the return, the two credits most exploited by fraudsters.

      That gives employers sufficient time to send their W-2 data to the IRS.  And allow the IRS to match the real W-2 numbers with those on incoming returns, stopping many of the phony claims for giant EITC/ACTC refunds.

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.

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