You may think we harp a lot on protecting yourself against identity theft. You are right…because having your identity stolen becomes an absolute financial nightmare, sometimes taking years to straighten out. Identity thieves are clever, relentless, and always coming up with new schemes to trick you. And all you have to do is slip up just once to compromise your identity and your nightmare begins.
What they try to do is trick you into divulging your personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security number.
One of the most popular methods these unscrupulous people use is requesting your personal information by e-mail. They are pretty good at making their e-mails look as if they came from a legitimate source such as the IRS, your credit card company, or your bank.
You need to be very careful when responding to e-mails asking you to update such things as your account information, pin number, or password. First and foremost, you should be aware that no legitimate company would make such a request by e-mail. If they do, they should be deleted and ignored just like spam e-mails.
We have seen bogus e-mails that looked like they were from the IRS, well-known banks, credit card companies, and other pseudo-legitimate enterprises. The intent is to trick you and have you click through to a website that also appears legitimate where they have you enter your secure information. Here are some examples:
- E-mails that appeared to be from the IRS indicating you have a refund coming and they need information to process the refund. The IRS never initiates communication via e-mail! Right away, you should know that it is bogus. If you are concerned, please free to call this office.
- E-mails from a bank indicating they are holding a wire transfer and need your bank routing information and account number. Don’t respond; if in doubt, call your bank.
- E-mails saying you have a foreign inheritance and they need your bank info so they can wire the funds. The funds that will get wired are yours going the other way. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it generally is.
We could go on and on with examples. The key here is for you to be highly suspect of any e-mail requesting personal or financial information. A good rule of thumb is to: STOP – THINK – DELETE.
If you receive something from the IRS or your state taxing agency and feel uncomfortable ignoring it, call this office to check so you don’t need to worry. The IRS publishes the “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams” every year which details current scams. However, the perpetrators of those scams are not the only ones trying to steal your financial information, so always be vigilant.
Your life can become a nightmare if your identity is stolen. Identity thieves will even file tax returns under your Social Security number claiming huge refunds and leaving you with a horrendous mess to clean up with the IRS. Don’t be a victim.