This important time of the year involves the exchange of a lot of documents and communications which contain sensitive personal information including addresses, Social Security numbers (SSN), employer information, and bank account numbers; all of which can be used to compromise or steal the identities of their owners. Identity thieves will use various scams and schemes to attempt to gain access to this information or con taxpayers into willingly and unknowingly hand it over.
"Scams during tax season are nothing new. Cybercriminals are getting smarter and have become more experienced in tailoring scams around specific times of the year, and tax season is a prime example," said Tim Rohrbaugh, Vice President of Information Security for Intersections Inc. "With the constant exchange of such valuable personal information, consumers must continue to remain vigilant and take extra precautions and care to help protect their identities."
In years past, fraudsters have used a number of methods to steal or obtain personal information. Fraudsters commonly masquerade as the IRS, calling and convincing unsuspecting tax payers to turn over their Social Security or bank account numbers in order to correct a factual error in their return or expedite the deposit of their refunds. Fraudsters have also distributed emails claiming to be from the IRS with attachments or links that contain Trojans or other malware that can easily empty the victim's bank account. And it's not just the mask of the IRS that has been used to con taxpayers into handing over data -- consumers also need to be cautious of emails or phone calls from property tax appraisers or local county tax assessors, which could just be another mask being used by identity thieves.
"More often, taxpayers are unaware they have been a victim of tax fraud until they file their return, only to find out two returns have been filed using the same Social Security number," says Steve Schwartz, Executive Vice President of Consumers Services for Intersections Inc. "Intersections is committed to continuing to educate consumers on how to help protect themselves to try to avoid situations like these. We encourage everyone to take advantage of these tips and use extra caution and care when filing their taxes this season."
Top Tips for a Safe & Secure Tax Season:
Be suspicious of any calls or emails purporting to be from the IRS -- the IRS will always write to you first, will rarely call, and will never email you.
Never confirm your SSN or bank account details by email or over the phone, unless you are initiating the call.
Use a special encrypted software program, like IDENTITY GUARD' ID Vault', as an additional layer of security to help protect your online finances.
When using an online tax preparation service, it is recommended you store your return on an external drive renaming it with a different file extension.
Make sure your computer is free of malware like computer viruses and spyware that can steal a copy of your SSN or bank account password.
Be sure to monitor your credit report after tax time to ensure no fraudulent activity has occurred.
For more helpful tips on how you can help protect your identity during the tax season, visit our blog, www.dailyshield.com.
Please join us March 8th at 7pm to talk live with an identity theft protection expert about these tips and more. To register, please visit http://dailyshield.com/protecting-your-identity-at-tax-time/ or follow our hashtag, #taxsafe.
About Intersections Inc.
Intersections Inc. /quotes/zigman/92911/quotes/nls/intx INTX +5.95% is a leading provider of consumer and corporate identity risk management services. Intersections provides various levels of service to more than 9.6 million consumers. Those services are offered through North America's leading financial institutions, directly to consumers under Intersections' award-winning IDENTITY GUARD' brand ( www.identityguard.com ), and through the company's exclusive partnership with ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center. Since 1996, Intersections has protected more than 34 million consumers.
For advice, opinions, and the latest news on identity theft for consumers, visit http://www.dailyshield.com .
SOURCE Intersections Inc.