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The Scam Man Finds New Ways to Steal Your Personal Information

Sunday, May 1st, 2016 | Uncategorized | No Comments

In recent months, we have written about the techniques used by thieves to steal your identity and file false tax returns and receive refunds using your personal data. The IRS reported that in January, the activity involving the filing of false tax returns was up more than 400%. We informed you about the telephone calls from thieves who call pretending to be the IRS, threatening you with arrest or a lawsuit if you do not pay your outstanding tax obligations by credit card or bank draft immediately. These calls have also increased in recent months, and who knows how much money innocent taxpayers have been scammed out of through such tactics.

The IRS has made attempts to prevent the processing of false tax returns, but under the current system, such attempts have not helped. The thief files the tax return claiming a huge refund in January and February, long before the IRS can validate the authenticity of the wages and withholdings claimed on the false wage statement (W-2). The employers are not required to submit the original wage statements until the end of February.

But if you build a new mouse trap, they will invent a better mouse. New methods to steal your identity include phone calls from thieves who pretend to be from tax filing software companies such as Turbo Tax. The caller claims that your return could not be processed due to incomplete information. They ask for your date of birth to confirm they are speaking to the right person, then they suggest your social security number did not contain the correct number of digits and ask you to verify the number by giving them your full social security number.

Besides your personal data, date of birth, and social security number, which allows them to file tax returns under your name, they also seek your credit card and banking information. In a recent scam, thieves call motels and ask for rooms at random. Such as, “Could you connect me with room 210?” The occupant in room 210 answers the phone, and the caller states they are “Mrs. Jones from the front desk. We attempted to process your credit card, but it was rejected. Could you read me the numbers off your card, including expiration date and security digits?” You believe it is the front desk and provide the caller with your valuable credit card information.

As you can see, thieves are being very creative in the ways they can steal your personal data. How can you protect yourself from thieves getting access to your data? Unfortunately, most of it is beyond your ability to control. Hackers have gained access to personal data from the IRS, Target, health care systems, Wendy’s, The Home Depot, the federal government databases, and the list goes on. However, you can take measures to protect your personal data from thieves getting it from you. Here are some suggestions:

» Never give out any personal information to anyone over the phone.

» Use strong passwords.

» Never click on a link or open an attachment unless you confirm it was sent from someone you know and you cannot live without it. (Emails can appear to come from someone you know, so confirm it before you open it.)

» Shred all your papers that contain any personal data.

» Never say your password, credit card number, or social security number out loud. Write it down, and pass it to the person. (For example, you’re standing in line and are asked for your account number. Anyone standing near you can hear you state your numbers.)

» Never enter your credit card information, PIN, or other details while using public Wi-Fi. Anyone can set up a public Wi-Fi and make you believe you are on a secure network. Anything you do through the Wi-Fi can be intercepted.

» Never respond to any email asking for your personal data, even if it looks official. Call and confirm that the email is actually from who you think sent it. Thieves can replicate your bank or credit card company’s websites and make an email look authentic.

» Never carry your social security card in your purse or wallet. When was the last time you actually had to use it? If your purse or wallet is stolen, they have your number. If you know you may need it, such as for a job interview, you can retain it from a secure place and take it with you for that appointment.

» Use sound, common sense.

The accounting professionals at Warren & Tallent CPAs can consult and assist you with your financial and tax needs, including advice on how to protect your identity and personal information. Call one of our offices today. Contact our Sweetwater office at (423) 337-5003 or our Madisonville office at (423) 442-3890. We welcome the opportunity to serve you.

Warren & Tallent

606C South Main Street in Sweetwater
(423) 337-5003

409 North College Street, Suite 2, in Madisonville
(423) 442-3890


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