Identity thieves recently hacked into an online service run by the IRS to steal tax information from more than 100,000 taxpayers. In a recent CNBC interview, Frank Abagnale – the inspiration for the “Catch Me If You Can” movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio – implied this breach could be part of a trend in the seedy world of identity theft.
“When you're dealing with corporate fraud, you're dealing in the millions (of dollars); when you're dealing with government fraud, you're dealing in the billions," Abagnale said on CNBC. "The criminal knows this is where the money is."
Unfortunately, IRS scams are some of the fastest-growing forms of identity theft. As reported in Forbes: “The trend is clear. Each year, the IRS publishes a list of its ‘Dirty Dozen’ tax scams. In 2011, just one involved some form of identity theft. This year no less than one-third were (identity theft-related) scams.”
This growing threat is one reason why LegalShield has partnered with Kroll to launch IDShield, the nation’s premier identity theft protection service. IDShield provides consumers with direct access to Kroll’s team of Licensed Private Investigators to help them protect against identity theft and to quickly restore their identities in the event that they are compromised by a national breach such as the one involving the IRS.
However, not all identity theft occurs online. The Social Security Administration has reported that thieves even dig into trash to steal a victim’s Social Security numbers, which they can use to file false tax returns then route false tax refunds to fake bank accounts or a mail drop. As Forbes reports: “Not only do they steal money from the government, but they create an enormous headache for legitimate taxpayers whose IDs they have stolen.”
Bella and John Kennedy know exactly how that headache feels. While they were on vacation, they were notified by their credit card company of some questionable charges. Although they were able to stop those charges immediately, it was not until they came home that they learned that the thieves had also filed false taxes under their name.
“We reached out to LegalShield and Kroll, and they gave us everything we needed to fully restore our identities. Every step of the way, Kroll’s Licensed Private Investigators were there to reassure us and to help us fill out the proper forms with the IRS. More importantly, they gave us peace of mind during this difficult challenge. We are IDShield customers for life!”
Another identity theft victim, Billy Brown, shares a similar story:
"30 days after I filed my taxes, I received a letter from the IRS stating that someone had already filed a tax return in my name and received a $9,000 refund. As a result, I was being audited. Working with the service that is now known as IDShield, I was guided through the restoration process and got the matter resolved with the IRS. Now, I have a 4-digit security code to use when I file my taxes that changes each year to protect me from this ever happening again. The Kroll investigator also placed fraud alerts on my credit reports for added security. IDShield gives me peace of mind and the protection I need."
Through IDShield, consumers have access to Kroll’s team of expert Licensed Private Investigators with powerful proprietary resources at their fingertips. These investigators are full-time employees who bring valuable insight and experience from a range of backgrounds such as law enforcement, counseling, banking, insurance, debt collection and more.
Matt Kidder is one of these Licensed Private Investigators. In his 12 years of experience in the field, he has helped thousands of people to recover from tax fraud and restore their identities. He offers the following tips to help people protect themselves from IRS scams and tax fraud:
- Ask Before You Share. “If you are asked for something sensitive such as a Social Security Number (SSN), ask why it is needed and what systems are in place to protect it.”
- Protect your PC. “Keep security software on your computer devices, and keep it updated. Think of it like locking the doors and windows of your house to protect who and what is inside.”
- Secure Personal Items. “Theft of physical items like purses, wallets and documents thrown in the trash are still tactics used by identity thieves.”
- Check Your Default Settings. “Privacy is not the default setting on social sites, which will likely make most of your information accessible. Change the settings to the level of privacy that you feel comfortable with. Also, do not share too much about yourself - just because a profile form has blanks that can be filled, that doesn’t mean you have to provide that info.”
- Be Skeptical. “A healthy dose of suspicion can be good for you sometimes! Do not respond to an unsolicited email that requests your private or sensitive information, or those where you are directed to a website via an embedded link. Creative thieves can make messages and webpages look authentic.”
- Watch the Wifi. “A thief can sit near a popular Wi-Fi location such as a coffee shop and set up a fake hotspot. Any unprotected data sent over a fake Wi-Fi network can be saved to the thief's computer. Use a virtual private network (VPN) connection whenever possible.”
LegalShield has provided legal protection to millions of people for more than 40 years and has provided identity theft protection for 15 years with Kroll . Today, IDShield protects the identities of more than a million people in 50 states and 4 Canadian provinces. For more information on IDShield and how you can protect your Loved ones. Go to: www.successudeserve.com