Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
Have you ever wondered how ID thieves get their victims’ personal and financial information? One way you may not have thought of is dishonest tax preparers. Each year, Treasury agents investigate allegations of criminal misconduct by tax preparers — a group that plays an important part in our nation’s tax system.
When identity thieves target taxpayers to obtain improper tax refunds, it causes serious consequences for the victim and for the IRS. The IRS is taking steps to make it more difficult for perpetrators to successfully file falsified returns using others’ personal information (prevention) and to make it more costly if caught doing so (deterrence). But as the voice of the taxpayer, my focus is on IRS’s victim assistance to those who find themselves impacted by identity theft.
The FTC warned people last summer about illegal prerecorded sales calls from scammers pitching safety alert systems for older adults. And now, the FTC and the Florida Attorney General have acted to temporarily halt and freeze the assets of an Orlando-based operation that not only used illegal robocalls to pitch so-called “free” medical alert devices to older consumers, but also lied about the cost and quality. The FTC and the Florida AG are working to permanently ban the operation from illegally pitching their products and to get refunds for victims.
Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection
Tax ID thieves are ready — are you?
Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job, and it’s one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft in the U.S. You might find out it’s happened when you get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, or IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t know.
By now, you probably know that National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is an annual event to highlight free resources from government agencies and consumer advocacy organizations that can help people make smarter buying decisions and spot scams. NCPW 2014 is March 2 – 8.
No, not poltergeists. Scammers. And they want your last penny.
We’ve written before about tech support scams — where a caller claims that your computer has a terrible virus and needs immediate attention. The scammer asks for remote access and then charges you for “fixing” a problem that wasn’t there.
Now, they’re working the phones again, and they claim that if you paid for tech support services, they can get you a refund.
If you’ve been following the news this holiday season, you’ve probably heard that Target shoppers may have been affected by the recent data breach. Target notified their customers of the breach via email.
Unfortunately, scammers follow the news, too. Scam artists may send out phony “Target” emails pretending to help, but they actually want to trick you into giving them your personal information. And they are skilled at making the emails look real. If you get an email that says it’s from Target, here’s what to look out for to make sure you don’t get scammed.
Target has announced that any credit or debit card used in a Target store in the U.S. between November 27 and December 15 may have been compromised. According to the announcement, the stolen information includes the customer’s name, credit or debit card number, and the card’s expiration date and CVV1 (a security code stored on your card's magnetic stripe).
In light of this announcement, the FTC has this advice...
There’s so much to look forward to in the spring — warmer weather, cherry blossoms, March madness, spring break, and… privacy seminars. That’s right: nothing says spring quite like the FTC’s upcoming Spring Privacy Series. These two-hour seminars will explore new and emerging technologies and their impact on consumer privacy.