I’m taking a break from writing about writing today. I need to share a bit of important security advice to my American readers. This time of year, a lot of money changes hands at a very high level. The Federal and State governments are sending out checks and making wire transfers in the form of tax refunds. Identity theft and fraud happen, and criminals love this time of year. It’s very lucrative.
NPR posted this excellent article about the current phishing scam that would-be thieves are employing to gather your personal information. The basic gist is, the scammers call unwitting targets, claiming to be from the IRS, and they then demand personal information and/or payment.
Neither the IRS nor any bank or creditor will EVER call you asking for personal information!
Notifications of debt are sent by letter, with official numbers to call. You call them, not the other way around. They then verify you are really you by using the information about you that they already have on file.
There’s another form of scam going on with the IRS this year as well. People post a whole lot of personal information online anymore. Scammers acquire blocks of social security numbers, and then go hunting for your personal information through social media. They find out things like: Your phone number and address, your maiden name, your mother’s name, your children’s names… then they go onto the IRS website, and they create an account using your own personal information gleaned off of social media sites. They will use those accounts to potentially file fraudulent tax returns in your name and shuffle refunds off into their own holding accounts.
To protect yourself, be proactive. First – double-check those security settings on your social sites and don’t over-share!
But also, go to the FBI website and create your own account linked to your social security number.
Head over to this page here on the IRS site and create your account. You don’t even need to use it for anything. Just link your social security number to your own personal information, and secure it with a complex password.
Protect your personal information, people! Stay one step ahead of the cyber-criminals.