IRS Tax Fraud Phone Scam February 16, 2018
Recently members have been receiving automated phone calls claiming they are with the IRS about committing tax fraud and using scare tactics threatening lawsuits, warrants, and family penalties; these calls are scams. If you do receive one please ignore it and don’t provide any information or account numbers in response to these calls. The IRS will contact you by mail not by phone or email. Although, if they do contact you by mail, be sure not to ignore any official letters and reply as soon as possible.
Additionally, please remember to file your taxes as early as you can to avoid any mishaps or tax scams. Of note, TurboTax offers a $5 discount for credit union members. While we don't endorse TurboTax specifically, you can redeem that discount here.
Additional Information: District Attorney’s Office - 18th Judicial District
Fraud Alert Warning: New IRS Refund Scam is Gaining Traction
There is a new IRS scam that’s spreading and is playing off of the more widely known tax imposter phone scam that claims money is owed to the IRS. This newly hatched, very intricate scam involves criminals who are processing and sending tax refunds directly to consumers and then calling and scaring them into returning the funds. Prior to late January when the IRS began accepting 2017 tax returns, criminals brazenly infected the computers of tax preparers and stole tax information on clients. Now they are using this data to process actual tax refunds. Once the refunds are sent, the crooks will call, text, or leave phone messages claiming to be agents or debt collectors from the IRS, and threatening victims with scare tactics if they don’t send their ‘fraudulent’ refunds back. There are obvious red flags with this scam, the most notable being that crooks are demanding payment using a wire service, or are instructing their victims to load a pre-paid card with money, then calling in a code, instead of instructing them to send the refund directly to the IRS. This tactic of requesting funds through round-about means is the hallmark of a typical phone scam. The second red flag is that the IRS won’t call you, even if you owe them. If your caller ID shows up as “IRS”, or “U.S. Department of Treasury, it’s a scam, and don’t respond. Although the IRS won’t call you, crooks will try to make it look that way by “spoofing” the information that appears on your Caller ID.
Steps to take if you are concerned, or have already received a refund:
- Immediately contact your tax preparer if he/she has not notified you of this scam, especially if you’ve already received a refund, or a refund you weren’t expecting. Usual turnaround time on a refund request is ten days, so any quick return of a refund should be questioned.
- In truth, fraudulent refunds must immediately be sent back to the IRS so they can take measures to correct and restore the client’s account to good standing, then process an appropriate refund. If you received a mailed refund check, void it and send it back to the IRS, along with a copy of the return and explanation as to why the check is being returned. If the check was automatically deposited, call the IRS to explain what happened (800-829-1040 for individuals or 800-829-4933 for businesses), then notify your bank so they can return the money. Finally, if you’ve already spent part or all the refund, you will need to write a check to repay the IRS. Send your check to your local IRS service center, along with a note explaining you were a victim of this scam. Make certain you have the correct IRS return address. Your tax preparer will have this information and should be able to guide you through these steps. For more information on this scam, contact the IRS at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts
Lastly, if you are unsure about a call, email or letter you receive, don’t hesitate to contact ACU by simply clicking/tapping the button below and we can provide assistance.
Buying a Salvage Vehicle January 16, 2018 Close/ Open
District Attorney’s Office - 18th Judicial District
Do Your Homework before Buying a Salvage Vehicle
Given the extent of damage to cars and trucks following the 2017 hurricane season, there will likely be a high volume of salvage vehicles on the market for the foreseeable future. A salvage vehicle is a car or truck that has been deemed a total loss, or as defined by the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles, a car with a cost of repair that exceeds fair retail value after it has been damaged due to collision, fire, flood, accident, trespass; and other occurrences, excluding hail storms. The insurance company determines the degree of damage when a claim is made.
It is important to know the laws in Colorado before such vehicles can be put up for sale “as is”; and/or restored and safely put back on the road. Establishing the worth of a salvage vehicle also requires some research, since Blue book values don’t apply. If you are considering buying a salvage vehicle, understand what is required by law, and how to protect yourself against buyer’s remorse, or fraud. Laws vary by state.
Before buying a salvage vehicle:
DA – 18th Consumer Protection Line: 720-874-8547
Equifax Breach September 8, 2017 Close/ Open
The breach has been reported as potentially affecting 143 million US consumers. Personal data, including birth dates, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and more, were obtained in the breach. This potentiates identity theft opportunities related to the 143 million personal data records that may be appended to other acquired records and leveraged for account takeovers.
Attached is the link to the Equifax website. On the home page, you will be able to determine if your credit information was exposed by clicking on the “Potential Impact” button, then following the instructions.
What you can do
For more information on the Equifax breach and other precautions to take, click on the Federal Trade Commission link
Video Scam August 1, 2017 Close/ Open
Financial institutions across the U.S. are experiencing an increase in fraud as a result of non-factual instructional videos on popular video-sharing websites like YouTube. A recent example is a YouTube video titled “You Have a Secret Bank Account-Here’s How to Use it.”
The videos take aim at naïve consumers by instructing them to make payments using a combination of a Federal Reserve routing number, account number and social security number. The videos are harmful to consumers and financial institutions because they proliferate misinformation leading to fraudulently attempted payments. The videos also loosely reference the Federal Reserve’s Treasury Direct by implying that secret bank accounts exist for every consumer without their knowledge.
The list of Federal Reserve routing numbers that are being distributed via the scam videos are listed below. Additional routing numbers may eventually be used as well.
10 Ways to Protect
Data Breach Close/ Open
First, Equifax is offering a free monitoring service to anyone—not only those who are affected by this breach. Since this is a free service, you may consider
signing up for this service, if it makes sense for you, by visiting
Equifax. Additionally, Equifax also recently announced that they are offering free credit locks for life.
That said, any time you are offered free credit monitoring, make sure you check for:
- Trial periods
- Cancellation requirements
- Other restrictions, such as automatic renewals
- Whether you are being asked to give your credit card, debit card, or bank account information
If you don’t give your credit card, debit card, or bank account information, that helps to avoid getting automatically renewed and charged for something that you expected to be free. This will also help to make sure you don’t face unexpected fees, charges, or other limitations.
Credit monitoring and arbitration
In the initial response to the data breach, people were concerned over an arbitration clause to enroll in Equifax’s TrustedID program for credit monitoring. Originally, this clause stated that claims and disputes against the company would be settled by arbitration, as opposed to in a court of law.
Top 10 ways to protect your personal information:
- Review your credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You can request a copy from AnnualCreditReport.com .
- Consider a security freeze. A security freeze or credit freeze on your credit report restricts access to your credit file. Creditors typically won’t offer you credit if they can’t access your credit reporting file, so a freeze prevents you and others from opening new accounts in your name. In almost all states, a freeze lasts until you remove it. In some states, it expires after seven years.
- Set up a fraud alert. Fraud alerts require that a financial institution verifies your identity before opening a new account, issuing an additional card, or increasing the credit limit on an existing account. A fraud alert won’t prevent lenders from opening new accounts in your name, but it will require that the lenders take additional identification verification steps to make sure that you’re making the request. An initial fraud alert only lasts for 90 days, so you may want to watch for when to renew it. You can also set up an extended alert for identity theft victims, which is good for seven years.
- Read your credit card and bank statements carefully. Look closely for charges you did not make. Even a small charge can be a danger sign. Thieves sometimes will take a small amount from your checking account and then return to take much more if the small debit goes unnoticed.
- Don’t ignore bills from people you don’t know. A bill on an account you don’t recognize may be an indication that someone else has opened an account in your name. Contact the creditor to find out.
- Shred any documents with personal or sensitive information. Be sure to keep hard copies of financial information in a safe place and be sure to shred them before getting rid of them.
- Change your passwords for all of your financial accounts and consider changing the passwords for your other accounts as well. Be sure to create strong passwords and do not use the same password for all accounts. Don’t use information such as addresses and birthdays in your passwords. For more tips on how to create strong passwords, read more on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) blog .
- File your taxes as soon as you can. A scammer can use your Social Security number to get a tax refund. You can try to prevent a scammer from using your tax information to file and steal your tax refund by making sure you file before they do. Be sure not to ignore any official letters from the IRS and reply as soon as possible. The IRS will contact you by mail; don’t provide any information or account numbers in response to calls or emails.
- Active duty servicemembers are eligible for additional protections, and should also monitor their credit carefully. Learn more about what you can do if you’re currently serving at home or abroad.
- If you are the parent or guardian of a minor and you think your child’s information has been compromised, here are some steps from the FTC you can take to protect their information from fraudulent use. If you think you or your child’s identity has already been stolen you can follow checklists and additional steps provided by the FTC to begin recovering from a case of identity theft.
Whether or not you are among the millions of people affected by the recent Equifax data breach, there are several steps you can take to respond when your personal information is exposed in a data breach. CFPB outlined several identity theft tips.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation Identity Theft & Fraud Unit
Equifax Data Breach Tips/Recommendations
The recent announcement regarding the data breach at Equifax has many people concerned about how to respond and protect your identity from ID thieves. Equifax is just the most recent of a number of data breaches that have impacted the majority of Americans. Here are some steps we recommend everyone take to protect yourself and your family from ID thieves and data breaches.
- Assume your information has been breached and act on that assumption. This is one time when assuming the worst will actually protect you.
- If you already have a credit monitoring/ID theft protection service, contact them immediately to determine what assistance they can offer you.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report. You may obtain a copy here: https://www.annualcreditreport.com
- Set up a Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze with the Credit Reporting Agencies. Here is some information on setting up a Fraud Alert: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert
- Here is information on an Extended Alert and Credit Freezes: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0279-extended-fraud-alerts-and-credit-freezes
- Consider your children’s credit reports as well as your own. Your child may not have a credit report, but it doesn’t hurt to try and check it out. In Colorado, the law says that “all consumers” may place a credit freeze. If your child does have a credit report, as that person’s guardian or parent, you may freeze their credit to protect them.
- Monitor your accounts for any suspicious or fraudulent activities. If you choose to access accounts online, just remember to use strong passwords and make sure you are not accessing your account on a public Wi-Fi network.
- Check your mail for anything that may indicate that someone is using your ID to try and obtain credit.
- Opt Out of pre-approved credit offers. Find out how here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0148-prescreened-credit-and-insurance-offers
- Request a year end analysis of services provided from your health insurance provider. This will show what doctor visits or other medical services have been billed to your insurance. This will help you determine if someone is using your medical ID.
- You may want to consider setting up an account with My Social Security. Sometimes ID thieves will try to set up this account using your ID. If you already have an account established, the thief will not be able to get into your account. This site does require two step authentication (2 passwords) for extra protection. Learn more or sign up here: https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
- If you KNOW that your ID has been breached, complete an IRS Form 14039 (IRS ID Theft Affidavit) to alert the IRS that someone else may file fraudulent tax returns in your name. Find this form and instructions here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf
- If you notice anything suspicious in any of your accounts or your mail, don’t ignore it. Check it out!
- Be very careful about emails or text messages you may receive offering your assistance in fixing the data breach problems. These are most likely scams! DO NOT click on any links or open attachments. Simply delete. If you receive a similar phone call—hang up on the caller. DO NOT give out any personal information!
Data Breaches can be scary, but help is available. By taking a few simple steps and working closely with your local law enforcement, financial institutions and specialized victim advocates, you will be able to recover and repair the damage.
For more information or if you have questions, please contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Identity Theft & Fraud Investigations Unit
24 Hour Identity Theft Hotline:
1-855-443-3489 (toll free)
Victim Assistance Program:
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