User Profile

Teresa Riley

Bio Statement It's Tax Season - Time to Be Aware of Identity Thieves

Well, it's that time of year again... tax time. I could tell because I received one of the first of many phishing emails supposedly from the IRS telling me that I had a refund due and get refund anticipation loan online. While you and I are dreading and worrying about our 1040's, identity theft scammers are gleefully looking forward to taking advantage of all our fear and greed in order to steal our private information.

Scammers regularly don the identity of the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to convince us taxpayers that whatever email we are receiving is an "official" communication from the IRS. When we open the email, the identity theft thief tries to trick us into revealing all our personal and financial information. They will try to get our credit card and bank account numbers, our passwords, or our Social Security numbers. Of course, with this information, these thieves will use this personal data to steal from our financial accounts, rack up charges on our credit cards, or open new loans among numerous other abuses of our personal data.

I did not open the email I received because I knew that it was just a phishing attempt to get my personal information. Basically, phishing is a term which defines a fraudulent email scam enticing the recipient to release confidential information. Phishing emails often target the elderly or ESL speakers because they are more apt to be scared (or excited) into doing what is being asked. Sophisticated phishing emails look very "official" and can oft times mimic the actual site so it is very difficult to tell if you are not aware.

Even though I did not open the email, I knew what would be in it. It would either say that my refund was waiting for me and to send them personal information so that they could send it out right away; that the fastest way to obtain my refund was by direct deposit and then I'd be directed to fill in my personal information, including my bank account information; or that there was a problem with my refund and that they just needed some corrective information prior to sending it out. They will all have a "just click here for the IRS website" button, looking very official, with the IRS logo. Of course, if you then clicked the link, it would take you to a website that would look like it was the IRS, but in fact, would be a scam site just to capture your personal information, and soon your bank account could be emptied!

So you need to be wary of emails from the IRS. The refund scam is the most common scam seen by the IRS so there is a good chance you will receive one at some time or another. I know that I probably get at least 25 bogus emails every tax season. Remember, we taxpayers do not have to complete a special form to obtain a refund as our refunds are based on the tax return we submit to the IRS. Here's to a safe tax season!

Candace C. Davenport has over 33 years of experience as an attorney. She is a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist, and lectures about the risks of Identity Theft to groups and businesses. She also trains employees about how to protect private information at work. Check out her Identity Theft blog or if you are interested in learning more at: [http://www.IdentityTheftForum.net].

Candace has also published a little book called The Little Book of Identity Theft which is available from Our Little Books, http://ourlittlebooks.squarespace.com/identity-theft. Your Identity is one of your most valuable assets. Don't wait until it is too late to protect yourself! Check it out now.