Preventing Tax Identity Theft
With tax time around the corner, there's no better time to brush up on your identity theft IQ. Criminals regularly use devious tactics to steal money and personal information from unsuspecting victims, and even more so around tax time. Hillsborough County Consumer & Veterans Services offers the following tips to help residents avoid tax fraud and identity theft:
Watch out for telephone scams.
Criminals can pose as government employees and demand payment, often via prepaid debit cards or money wires. Red flags to watch out for are when the caller threatens to file a lawsuit, call the police, or involve federal law enforcement agencies if the victim doesn't pay. Should this happen to you, it is important that you hang up and do not pay, no matter how convincing they sound. Check with the legitimate source by calling them directly to verify any amount owed.
Some charities are fake.
Criminals will set up fake charities to prey on generous and unsuspecting victims around tax time and especially during times of distress, such as following a natural disaster. Don't give out personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number, and be wary of charities with names that resemble well-known or national charity organizations.
Emails are not always from who you think they are.
Criminals will send an email to your personal or business account appearing to be from a legitimate source, such as a government, bank, or friend. They'll ask you to provide sensitive information, to simply click on a link in the message, or open an attachment. Do not provide personal information, click on links, or open attachments from emails unless you are absolutely certain they are from a legitimate source. Government agencies, including the IRS, will contact you by sending a letter to your address - they do not contact you via email.
For additional information, contact Consumer & Veterans Services at (813) 635-8316 or visit HCFLGov.net/Consumer for more information.