Avoiding Scams and Identity Theft, Part I

With tax season officially over, con artists and scammers are turning their attention back to financial institutions. With the amount of data that is just floating around online, it’s no wonder the authorities can’t keep up with the latest data-theft techniques.

You have worked very hard for your money, and Educators wants to help make sure you keep it. Here are some things to keep in mind when you go about your daily routine to avoid becoming a victim in someone’s desperate scam.

The biggest rule of thumb people forget about is not handing over personal information to outside sources that aren’t secure. While that may seem obvious, the methods criminals use are not.

For example, a popular trend during tax season was the “added refund” scam. You would be contacted, either via phone or email, from someone claiming to be with the IRS or state tax authority. They would tell you that, as it turns out, you are due to receive more money back from the government.

In order to receive your funds, they just need to verify your Social Security Number, address and if you want a direct deposit, your credit union account information. Some scammers will even tell you that in order to process your extra thousand-dollar return, you will have to pay a small fee. And of course, they can take your payment over the phone or email right away—you just have to give them your account information.

Remember, the IRS will never send you a letter or call you asking to confirm your identity with your personal information. If you are getting audited, you will know it right away.