Identity Theft Letter
I have had a number of clients who either were victims of identity theft or were called or emailed in an ID theft or scam situation so I wanted to give you some useful information. I will use the acronym “SCAM” to explain:
S – be stingy with your information
C – be cautious with calls and computers
A – be ALERT for common scams
M – monitor your personal information
Be Stingy with your personal information. Do not give it to anyone who you do not trust and know. Beware of giving personal information over the phone to even a trusted person if you are in a public place – go to a less public place to reduce the chance of being overheard. Don’t carry your social security card on you. Even at home or work or in your car, treat personal information like it was cash and take steps to secure it. Shred any documents with personal information.
Be cautious regarding telephone calls and computer emails and pop-ups. These attacks are called phishing. The IRS NEVER starts contact with a phone call or an email. If you are working with an IRS agent, that agent may call you after you have given them your number. If you receive a call or email from the IRS or a bank or credit card company, DO NOT click on a link in the email or pop-up rather go directly to their website and call them to verify the facts. For additional computer security, use a pop-up blocker, virus/malware protection, install a firewall, backup important files and use strong passwords.
Be alert to common scams. Scams often have typos in the letter or awkward phrasing as many scams come from out of the country. They may say you have won a contest or lottery that you never entered. You may be a verified winner if you click in the next ten seconds…They may say they are a legal firm looking for long lost relatives …The IRS does not sue taxpayers, they don’t ask for prepaid debit cards or passwords or call to request personal information to verify your identity or update their records. Taxes are paid out of winnings in big payouts, you do not need to wire money first. Know how your bank works – for example on many legitimate sites, you may have to enter your bank routing number and account to deposit and pay $1 to setup payments (such as PayPal or the USPS) but you do not need to transfer $1000 to set these up.
Monitor your personal and financial information. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service. You can also monitor your social security records on SSA.gov by signing up on My Social Security.