Monday, April 14, 2014

Identity theft warning for last-minute tax filers

Tax Day is tomorrow, which means it's time for me to pull the following articles out of my archives.  It may be too late for all of us who filed early, but the last-minute filers can still benefit from it.

The University of Georgia warned in February that Identity thieves may wait to use stolen data during tax season.
Athens, Ga. - Identity thieves may take advantage of tax season by filing false tax returns with their victims' stolen personal information, warns a data security proponent at the University of Georgia.

"During tax season, identity thieves are quick to file returns and get refunds from the government that will cause a legitimate taxpayer's refund to be denied as a duplicate return," said Laura Heilman, a security awareness training and education manager at UGA's Enterprise Information Technology Services office. "The legitimate taxpayer then takes on the burden of proving they are who they say they are and an identity thief was the fraudulent filer."

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, fraudulent tax refunds claims associated with identity theft reached $12.1 billion in 2012. Tax-related identity theft and fraud is expected to reach an all-time high as people begin to file their tax returns for 2013.
The same week, the University of Alabama explained how to defend against this threat in UA Matters: Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft.
Identity theft is the most prevalent white collar crime in the United States today. The University of Alabama’s Caroline Fulmer helps consumers understand how it occurs, the steps that can be taken to minimize the chances of being a victim and where to get help if they are a victim.

The most common ways identity theft occurs are when your wallet or purse is stolen; records are stolen from inside your home or from your mailbox; you willingly share information with a person who turns out to be a scam artist; using unsecure websites; or your information is stolen from a business.
The next month, Texas A&M chimed in with AgriLife Extension expert: Consumers can increase vigilance on identity theft.
FTC report shows U.S. consumers lost $1.6 billion-plus to fraud in 2013

COLLEGE STATION – Identity theft continues to top the list of consumer complaints, according to a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission.

The report noted that American consumers lost over $1.6 billion to fraud in 2013, based on more than  2 million complaints reported in the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2013. Of these complaints, 14 percent were identity theft-related.

Complaints against debt collectors, banks and lenders, imposter scams, and telephone and mobile services rounded out the report’s top five consumer complaint categories.
Stay safe against this 21st Century crime.

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