Social Security Fraud By Mail
While the rise of scams perpetrated electronically, and thus cheaply, has reduced the volume of Social Security fraud by mail, the practice has not entirely vanished. One such scheme is a direct mail scam that primarily targets older people
A letter comes in the mail offering an extra check, along with a form asking for personal information and a filing fee. In it, the scammer asks the recipient for a Social Security number, money, and/or bank account information to help with the application.
Again, this is a red flag. The Social Security Administration will never ask for your full Social Security number, because it already knows it. In the event the SSA does send you a letterfor example, when your benefits increaseit will never ask you for money or any other personal information.
The Social Security Administration will never ask you for your full Social Security number. It already knows it.
Your Cellphone Or Another Utility Loses Service
Losing your cellphone service can represent another warning sign of identity theft. If you do lose service, you should promptly review your account for unfamiliar activity.
For instance, if an identity thief upgrades a phone on your existing account, your current device could lose service because your service has been transferred to the new device. On top of that, you could still be responsible for paying for the new device.
In this case, youll want to reach out directly to your wireless provider.
Accounts Covered By Fact Act
The FACT Act specifies the types of accounts that are covered by the monitoring requirements of the act. These include transactional accounts such as checking, savings and money-market accounts as well as illiquid certificates of deposit. Mortgages, car loans and other types of credit accounts are also covered by the act. Business entities are not typically susceptible to identity theft, but accounts owned by a sole proprietor are covered by the act.
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Defending Against Scams Starts With Awareness
Ive interacted with hundreds of people who have lost money. Many are smart and excel at their jobs. Victims come from every slice of society, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, Nobel Prize winners, mechanics and even IT security workers. So, dont shame victims thinking that they were dumb or a patsy. Intelligence has nothing to do with it.
The deciding factor whether someone can be scammed is awareness of the scam presented to them. Many people have no idea that Microsoft doesnt call you to let you know your computer is infected with a virus. Most dont know that they can still be held responsible for a cleared check.
The number one scam defense is awareness education. Banks are doing it. Employers are doing it. Craigslist is doing it. Many people and businesses try their best to inform people about the various scams. Consider adding the following information to your companys security awareness training program.
Your Bills Are Missing Or You Receive Unfamiliar Bills
Sometimes identity thieves will steal their victims mail by changing their mailing address. If your bills are missing, this may be a warning sign of identity theft. Criminals can then gather information from your mail and piece it together to open new accounts in your name.
In addition to obtaining credit cards in your name, identity thieves may fraudulently use your personal information to purchase goods in your name, upgrade services on existing accounts for their own use, or open new wireless accounts.
You may not find out about it until an unpaid account appears on your credit report or you hear from a bill collector. This is a big warning sign of ID theft. Its important to keep track of all bills and bank correspondence in case you need to remediate these fraudulent charges.
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Here Are Some Red Flags That Could Grab The Attention Of Irs
- There are inquiries from the IRS that fall short of an official audit.
- In fiscal year 2019, fewer than than 0.5% of tax returns were audited.
- Earning a lot of money isn’t the only thing that can spark interest from the IRS.
Trying to pull a fast one on the taxman could come with regrets.
While the IRS is auditing fewer tax returns that it once did, the agency’s systems are automated to spot certain discrepancies. And, there are some parts of returns that simply generate more scrutiny than others.
In other words, there is still a risk that you could hear from the IRS.
“A lot of this is done by analytics and computers and the farther you are from the normal range for similar taxpayers, the more likely you are to get a love letter in the mail from the IRS,” said certified financial planner Jeffrey Levine, director of advanced planning at Buckingham Wealth Partners.
The IRS will handle an estimated 150 million returns this filing season, with the filing deadline set for July 15. As of June 12, the agency had received more than 136.5 million returns and issued 92 million refunds. The average refund is $2,767.
While most people will never face an audit only 0.45% were audited in fiscal year 2019 there are other types of IRS inquiries, such as a notice of income-reporting discrepancy and proposed additional tax due. Those communications fall short of an official audit, which the IRS gets three years to initiate after the challenged return is filed.
Fraud Alerts For Children And How To Check Your Childs Credit Report
Children are among the most common victims of identity theft. Unfortunately, many parents may not realize their childrens information has been stolen and misused until their children become adults and check their credit for the first time. Additionally, many children have their identity stolen and misused by adult family members or friends, making the issue much worse.
If your minor child has a credit report, this is a giant red flag and a good indication of child identity theft!
Simply put, you wont know whether or not your need to be concerned about child identity theft until your check to determine if your child has a credit report, and examine what information is on it. And even if you dont find any report, it may be a good idea to create one and then place a credit freeze on that report to prevent misuse in the future.
Minors aged 14-17 can contact any of the credit reporting agencies to check their own credit report. Parents of children under the age of 18 can do this at any time as well.
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Your Income Tax Return Is Way Off
Tax fraud is a simple, but lucrative scam. A fraudster will impersonate you by reporting income that qualifies you for a tax refundâexcept the thief cashes the check, then vanishes.
Beware of notifications that a tax return has been filed on your behalf, or if you receive a W-2 from a company you never worked for. You can also go online and review your tax return status on the official IRS website.
This type of scam is most common at the beginning of the year, before most people have filed their annual taxes with the IRS.
If Someone Uses Your Social Security Number To Claim Unemployment Benefits Or To Work
If you suspect that someone else has claimed unemployment benefits using your Social Security number, call the California Employment Development Departments toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-800-229-6297. For more information, see their Web site at www.edd.ca.gov. Search on the site for “fraud.” Sometimes, an identity thief will use someone elses Social Security number to be eligible to work. Its a good idea to check your Social Security earnings record to see if income earned by a thief is being posted to your account. You can get a copy of your earnings record by calling 1-800-772-1213. Or get a Request for Social Security Statement at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7004.html. If you believe a thief is using your Social Security number to work or claim Social Security benefits, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. Or report Social Security benefits fraud online at www.ssa.gov/oig/hotline/index.htm..
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Your Personally Identifying Documents Are Lost
It’s critical that you know where all of your identifying documents and debit/credit cards are at all times.
If any of the following items are lost or stolen, you may be at risk for identity theft:
While youâre at it, remove any extra credit cards from your purse or wallet. Itâs best to travel with just one or two credit cards, along with one form of ID, like your driverâs license.
If your wallet contains dozens of credit cards, and then you lose your wallet, you’ve created a jackpot opportunity for identity thieves.
NEVER store your Social Security card in your wallet. Your Social Security number is at the top of every scammerâs wishlist, and you canât afford to let it fall into the wrong hands.
If your Social Security card is lost or stolen, you should contact Social Security administration immediately and request a replacement card at ssa.gov.
Use Antivirus Software And Vpn
Ransomware, malware and spyware are running rampant today. Don’t let these harmful applications wreak havoc on your privacy. Try an antivirus solution like Aura to keep your devices protected.
Additionally, public Wi-Fi will leave you exposed to all types of security vulnerabilities. Public internet connections like those at coffee shops, libraries, and airports can be temptingâbut theyâre not secure. If possible, use a VPN to protect your data while browsing publicly.
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Request Information On Fraudulent Accounts
When you file your police report of identity theft, the officer may give you forms to use to request account information from credit grantors, utilities or cell phone service companies. If the officer does not do this, you can use the form in our Consumer Information Sheet 3A: Requesting Information on Fraudulent Accounts. When you write to creditors where the thief opened or applied for accounts, send copies of the forms, along with copies of the police report. Give the information you receive from creditors to the officer investigating your case.
Identity Theft Victim Checklist
This checklist can help identity theft victims clear up their records. It lists the actions most identity theft victims should take to limit the damage done by the thief. For more information, see the Web sites of the Federal Trade Commission at , the Identity Theft Resource Center at www.idtheftcenter.org, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse at www.privacyrights.org
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Report The Fraud To The Three Major Credit Bureaus
You can report the identity theft to all three of the major credit bureaus by calling any one of the toll-free fraud numbers below. You will reach an automated telephone system and you will not be able to speak to anyone at this time. The system will ask you to enter your Social Security number and other information to identify yourself. The automated system allows you to flag your file with a fraud alert at all three bureaus. This helps stop a thief from opening new accounts in your name. The alert stays on for 90 days. Each of the credit bureaus will send you a letter confirming your fraud alert and giving instructions on how to get a copy of your credit report. As a victim of identity theft, you will not be charged for these reports. Each report you receive will contain a telephone number you can call to speak to someone in the credit bureaus fraud department.
What Is The Meaning Of Red Flag On Credit Reports
From a consumer perspective, a red flag is a warning that something suspicious or negative may have happened on an individual’s credit report. This may be a sign of fraudulent activity. Creditors have to follow the FTC’s Red Flags Rule to try to identify, manage and avoid these flags. They may also use their own red flag system to assess the risk of giving credit to consumers.
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Does Your Dealership Have A Written Identity Theft Prevention Program To Comply With The Red Flags Rule
Running an auto dealership isnt easy, and there are countless rules and regulations owners are told they need to follow often without much explanation. There is one regulation in place, however, that every auto dealership needs to understand and implement to be fully compliant: The Red Flags Rule.
The Red Flags Rule protects consumers and businesses from the growing risk of identity theft. It began on January 1, 2011 and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and several other agencies.
Under the Red Flags Rule, certain types of businesses are required to create and implement a written identity theft prevention program to detect the red flags associated with identity theft in their day-to-day operations. The FTC considers red flags to be the potential patterns, practices, or specific activities indicating the possibility of identity theft.
Auto dealerships must follow the Red Flags Rule because of the part they play in helping customers finance their vehicle purchases.
Identity theft can cause huge problems for individuals and businesses from damaged credit to unpaid bills to empty bank accounts that last for years. By identifying suspicious activity, auto dealerships can hopefully prevent incidents of identity theft from happening and avoid the trouble that these criminals can cause.
If Your Driver’s License Or Dmv
Immediately contact your local DMV office to report the theft. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your license. Then call the toll-free DMV Fraud Hotline at 1-866-658-5758. If the thief is using your license as ID, you may want to change your license number. Ask DMV for an appointment. Take a copy of the police report and copies of bills or other items supporting your claim of fraud. You will also need to prove your identity. Take current documents such as a passport, a certification of citizenship or naturalization, or a U.S. military photo ID. DMV will issue a new license or ID card number when you meet all the requirements.
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How To Protect Your Sin
To protect your SIN:
- do not carry your SIN in a wallet or pursestore it in a safe place
- never use your SIN as a piece of identification
- only provide your SIN when you know it is legally required
- give your SIN by phone ONLY if you made the call and know that it is legally required
- do not reply to emails that ask for personal information, such as your SIN
- shred paper records that contain your SIN once you no longer need themdo not recycle them
- update the SIN Program with changes to your name or citizenship status, or to indicate if your SIN record is wrong or incomplete
- take action right away to protect your SIN if you suspect someone is using it fraudulently
Types Of Fraud Alerts
Each credit reporting agency will allow you to set up one of three fraud alerts types:
- Initial fraud alert
- Extended fraud alert
- Active military fraud alert
Each fraud alert serves a different purpose. Its important to decide whether your situation requires any of these options. It is unlikely that you will be able place multiple types of fraud alerts on any one account, so if youre unsure of which one you need, you may want to contact one of the credit reporting agencies, such as Experian, describe your situation, and allow them to help you decide how best to proceed.
Lets explore each of these types of alerts in more detail.
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Dont Fall For These New Social Security Phone Scams
A troubling new report suggests that a dreaded strain of phone scam targeting Social Security numbers is on the rise.
The Social Security phone scam is by far the most common phone scam this year, with an astonishing 23-fold rise in frequency, according to a report from BeenVerified. Spam calls targeting Social Security numbers accounted for a full 10% of all fraudulent calls, according to the study.
Victims wire money, send gift cards, or surrender personal information to the scammers. Last year, this type of fraud cost Americans $19 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
But the numbers tell only half the story. While more criminals are targeting Social Security numbers, an equally important question is: How? BeenVerified shared the most common Social Security phone scams exclusively with FORBES. And although there are ways to spot these fraudulent calls, the long-term outlook is as troubling as the report itself.
The rise in Social Security phone scams.
New tactics lure victims into a Social Security phone scam
Scammers know that you’re screening your calls, so they’re resorting to new tactics.
“Scam callers are side-stepping increased consumer awareness about not answering the phone from unknown numbers,” says Justin Lavelle, a spokesman for BeenVerified. “They’re leaving official-sounding voicemails, often with a phone number spoof from a DC-based area code to add some validity to the impostor scam.”
Red Flag And Identity Theft Prevention
In this brief on Preventing Identity Theft you will find the Policies on Red Flag and Identity Theft Prevention.
PREVENTING IDENTITY THEFT
THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT and The Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Shelbyville want to help you be vigilant in securing your identity and reducing your risk of being a victim.
What is Identity Theft?
If someone is using your identifying information to obtain goods, services, credit, and/or open fraudulent accounts, you are the victim of identity theft. Victims are left with poor credit and the complicated task of restoring their good names. Usually, thieves target components of your personal identifying information, such as your:
Identity Theft Can Happen to Anyone
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Someone’s identity is stolen every 4 seconds in the United States, and there are over 10 million identity theft victims in the US each year. The average costs for recovering from an attack on your identity is $8,000, plus an average of 600 hours in paperwork and other activities to clear your name. The majority of victims don’t discover the theft until months after it occurs.
How Can My Identify Be Stolen?
Your best protection against identity theft is knowing where the thieves can get your information. Amazingly, most of us don’t realize the most common ways our identity can be compromised by thieves:
Reducing Your Risk
If You Think It Has Happened to You
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