You Can Fight Identity Theft
- Never provide personal financial information, including your Social Security number, account numbers or passwords, over the phone or the Internet if you did not initiate the contact.
- Never click on the link provided in an e-mail you believe is fraudulent. It may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.
- Do not be intimidated by an e-mail or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial information.
- If you believe the contact is legitimate, go to the company Web site by typing in the site address directly or using a page you have previously book marked, instead of a link provided in the e-mail.
- If you fall victim to an attack; act immediately to protect yourself. Alert your financial institution. Place fraud alerts on your credit files. Monitor your credit files and account statements closely.
- Report suspicious e-mails or calls to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
Tax Time Scams and Avoiding IRS Identity Theft
The IRS uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to make sure your filing is accurate and complete, and that you get any refund you are due. Identity theft can affect how your tax return is processed. An unexpected notice or letter from the IRS could alert you that someone else is using your SSN, however, the IRS doesn’t start contact with a taxpayer by sending an email, text or social media message that ask for personal or financial information.
Last year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identify theft refunds in filing season 2013. To learn more information about Tax Related Identity Theft and how to reduce the risk, click here.
This year, especially in light of the Anthem breach, tax payers need to be wary of the numerous tax scams that are cropping up in an attempt to steal people’s tax refunds, bank accounts, or identities. Here are just a few to look out for:
- The ‘You’re Owed a Refund’ Email
The email says that the user is owed a refund and should forward a bank account number where the refund may be deposited. Once the scammer has the bank account information, that account will see a big withdrawal, not a deposit.
- The ‘Participate in our IRS Survey for an Exciting Offer’ Email
The email contains an exciting offer or even a refund to the user for participating in an “IRS Survey.” This fake survey is actually used to acquire information to perform identity theft.
- IRS Imposter Phone Calls
Telephone calls are being received that appear to be coming from the IRS. The caller may even give a badge number and know the last four digits of your SSN. You are then told that “you owe money,” or that “you better pay now, or you’ll be arrested,” or even to “put money on a prepaid debit card or wire it to us.” This is a scam; the IRS will first contact you through the mail and not be directly calling.
Here’s what to remember. The IRS’s first contact to you will always be in writing and they will not request sensitive information by email. If you receive an email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete it. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS, do not give the caller any information. Write down the details of the call and file a complaint through the Federal Trade Commission either online at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 877-FTC-Help.