Protect Yourself During Tax Season

Be Aware of Tax Season Scams

 

During the first quarter of every “New Year,” like it or not, everyone has the chore of communicating with Uncle Sam before April 15th. Franklin Police Department and neighboring agencies have noticed that it is during tax time that crimes such as Identity crimes are the greatest.

Identity crimes are identified by the Secret Service as the misuse of personal or financial identifiers in order to gain something of value or facilitate other criminal activities.  According to previous statistics, Georgia has previously been ranked in the top 10 for the number of reports of compromises or thefts of identities reported by its residence.

Some of the most common schemes you as citizens should be aware of are: identity thefts, phishing scams.

The theft of identifying information includes current or former names, social security numbers, drivers license numbers, checking or saving account information, credit or other financial transaction card information, personal ids, electronic id's, medical id's, birth dates, mother's maiden names, and tax id's.

Law enforcement has found that there is no typical identity theft victim. Victims can be young, old, rich, poor, and from any ethnic and social background. Anyone can become an identity theft victim.  Actually, thieves today don’t even care if you are alive when they steal your identity.  The identity of a dead person can be just as easily stolen as someone who is still alive and he or she won’t even know how identity thieves gain access to personal information. They do this by: Stealing incoming or outgoing mail from your boxes, Dumpster Diving (stealing old bills or statements while rummaging through trash), Breaking into your vehicle, Stealing computer equipment or mobile devices which contain your personal information, or Stealing your wallet or purse. “Pretexting” is another way thieves collect this information. They do this by contacting individuals on the phone and posing as legitimate companies, claiming that they have a problem with their account to obtain information.  You should never disclose personal information over the phone if the call was not initiated by you.

Thieves use "Phishing scams" to direct individuals to another website which appears legitimate.  The website then request that the individual enter their personal information, usually name, phone number, social security number and date of birth.  Once they enter the information in the phony website, someone steals your identity. Contacting the individual directly through social engineering or through e-mail (phishing). If you use social websites like Myspace or Facebook, don’t put you full date of birth on your profile or allow people access to your profile that you do not know. Once a thief obtains your identity information, the damage they can cause to your good name is unlimited.

If a citizen who has learned or reasonably believes that he or she has been the victim of these thefts or scams should contact their local law enforcement agency immediately.  We at Franklin Police Department are always available to assist our citizens should they friend themselves in this compromised situation.