Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
4 minutes reading time (796 words)

Identity Thieves Use Any Tactic to Steal Your Identity

We are all aware of the threat of identity theft. Those ruthless scammers will stop at nothing to get your personal information, including digging through your garbage, lying about who they are, or stealing your wallet. We know to shred all of our receipts and statements. We know to never give out our Social Security number, unless we know who we are giving it to. We know to safeguard credit card and loan information. We study all three of our credit reports, at least annually, to check for evidence of unauthorized accounts. Even that sometimes doesn't stop crooks.

With better-informed consumers more cautiously guarding their personal information, those slime bags are trying harder. They prey on an unsuspecting victim's sense of fear or greed to get a response, complete with all the information needed to raid their bank account.

Who isn't nervous about the possibility of a time-consuming tax-audit? Who doesn't get excited about a tax refund they weren't expecting? Well, that's the ploy recently being used by these criminals to weasel out private information. And our friendly IRS just sent out a warning to all consumers about some new ways identity thieves are tricking people. They suspect these scams will be going on for the rest of the tax season.

Identity thieves have been luring taxpayers with the word "rebate." They've been busy making phone calls, claiming to be the IRS. They tell the victim that they are entitled to a rebate, but they have to file their taxes early, and they have to get the rebate directly deposited into their bank account to qualify. If the taxpayer refuses to give out information, they are told they won't qualify for the rebate at all. This is a scam. The IRS does not require anybody to use direct deposit, and they will not attempt to get bank information through a telephone call; you'll send that information when you file your tax return. Also, you will not miss out on money because you don't file early.

Those losers are also trying to trick people by sending e-mails offering a tax refund that the taxpayer wasn't aware of. They are told to click on a link to get the "refund claim form." The form instructs the recipient to fill in personal information, which the scammers then use to access bank or credit card accounts. This is a phony e-mail. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails regarding your tax refund. The only way you get a tax refund is if you file your tax return. You may also get a refund if you suffer through an audit and the IRS agent finds that you are actually due more money because you had credits or deductions you didn't take. But the IRS will not notify you by e-mail.

Those criminals have come up with a way to get any body's attention - an e-mail containing the threat of an audit. These e-mails look very convincing, addressed directly to the individual by name, as opposed to the generic, mass-spamming that's usually seen. These fake e-mails instruct the recipient to click on a link to fill out a form with personal information. The IRS does not notify anyone of tax matters by e-mail, including notification of an audit.

Another way the creeps are stealing information is by sending e-mails to businesses, accountants, and Treasury managers, claiming that there are new tax law changes. They ask recipients to click on a link to download the new tax laws. The IRS believes the link installs malware, which may give the crook remote access to the victim's computer hard drive, or it may look for passwords and account information in the computer and send it to the identity thief.

The final scam that the IRS is aware of is where the caller claims to be an IRS employee. They say that they mailed a check that has not yet been cashed, and that they want to be sure they have the right bank account number. Again, this is a lie. The IRS does not follow up on the checks they mail and really doesn't care if they are cashed or not. If the taxpayer does not receive an anticipated check, it is up to them to contact the IRS; not the other way around.

Please guard yourself from these busy criminals. Don't send personal information to anyone you haven't contacted personally, no matter how legitimate they sound. If you need to contact the IRS, don't click on a link from an e-mail; go directly to the IRS website at If you've received one of these phony e-mails, or have receive calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS, go to"] to report it or to forward the suspicious e-mail.

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Wednesday, 08 February 2023

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