Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
It’s tax season, and you know what that means: identity thieves who want to steal your tax refund are at work. Find out how to stop them during Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, January 25-29.
The FTC and its partners are hosting a series of events to help you understand tax identity theft, how to minimize your risk of becoming a victim, and what to do if thieves have stolen your tax refund. Check these out:
It may be time to update an old lullaby with a new stanza: “Hush little baby, don’t say a word, unless your Wi-Fi baby monitor is well-secured.”
Why? It turns out that some baby monitors that broadcast live audio and video feeds over the internet have few security protections. Nobody wants a monitor that lets you keep an eye on your baby from your computer or mobile device if it allows a stranger to hack the feed and watch, too.
The subject line says “Get Protected,” and the email talks about new features from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that can help taxpayers monitor their credit reports, and know about unauthorized use of their Social Security number. It even cites the IRS and the official-sounding “S.A.F.E Act 2015.”
It sounds real, but it’s all made-up. It’s a phishing email to get you to click on a scammer’s link.
Pop quiz: If someone calls you asking for your bank account number, should you give it to them?
Answer: Never. Hang up — it’s a scam.
We’ve heard about different kinds of imposter scams on the rise. In one scenario, scammers call, pretending to work for Medicare. They say they need to verify your bank account number — and it might sound convincing. In truth, it’s a trick to steal your money.
If you own a computer, you’ve probably seen this message before: Java Update Available. You know that leaving outdated software on your computer can make it more vulnerable to viruses and malware, so you’ve always agreed to the updates. Unfortunately, the FTC says keeping Java updated didn’t necessarily keep it secure.
Have you ever wondered what happens when a company is charged with violating a settlement order with the FTC? Well, ya got trouble. I mean trouble with a capital “T”. And for LifeLock, that trouble comes partly in the form of full refunds of up to $100 million for consumers affected by its alleged order violations.
As a parent, you have control over the personal information companies collect online from your kids under 13. This includes your child’s name, address, phone number, email address, and information the companies can use to track your child’s online activities. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives you tools to do that. If a site or service is covered by COPPA, it has to get your permission before collecting personal information from your child and it has to honor your choices about how that information is used.
Concerned about data breaches and identity theft? Living on your own for the first time and thinking about budgeting, credit, renting an apartment or buying a car? Were you the victim of a scam? Misled by false advertising claims? Or do you just want to get smarter about products and services you’re considering?
Whatever’s happening in your world, when it comes to protecting your money and guarding your information, National Consumer Protection Week is a great time to get the best consumer resources from federal, state and local agencies and consumer advocacy groups across the nation. NCPW 2016 is March 6-12.
Here’s a thought to warm the Grinch’s heart: while you’re focused on the holiday season, identity thieves are thinking about how to steal your information. One of the ways they try to do that is by filing a fake tax return using your information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund. You may only find out about it when you get a letter from the IRS. Or when you file your return, only to hear from the IRS that someone else already did. That’s tax identity theft, a problem we hear more about each year.