Fraudulent transactions on your credit card or bank statements have become so commonplace; people don’t even bat an eye. Unfortunately there is a new wave of identity fraud which is not so easily wiped away. Identity thieves are targeting children, tax returns and medical records, making these serious identity theft crimes the ones to watch out for.
Tax Fraud and IRS Impersonation Telephone Scam
Complaints about tax identity theft accounted for nearly a third of all the complaints filed to the Federal Trade Commission about ID theft in 2014.¹ Most commonly, tax ID theft occurs after a thief gains access to an individual social security number and files a tax return to get the refund.
An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Note that the IRS will never: 1) call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill; 2) demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe; 3) require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; 4) ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or 5) threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
¹ Federal Trade Commission, Tax ID Theft Tops FTC Complaints in 2014; IRS Imposter Complaints Up More Than 2,300 Percent, Jan 26, 2015.
ID Theft Scams
Child ID Theft
Since children have perfect untouched credit histories they are a prime target. Since most children won’t even see their credit history until they are old enough to open a credit card, the fraud can go unnoticed for years. Here are a few warnings signs to look out for: receiving credit card solicitations in the mail for your child or if your child is refused a job or bank account because of issues verifying their social security number.
Medical ID Theft
Medical identify theft occurs when a thief steals your personal health insurance information to obtain medical treatment, fill prescriptions, or even have a surgery done. Medical identity theft rose 22 percent in 2014² this type of fraud is especially dangerous because it’s often hard to detect and, more often than not, it’s an inside job where someone in the medical office steals the information. Medical fraud has very serious outcomes, potentially affecting your healthcare treatment.
² Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, 2014 Study on Medical Identity Theft
For more information, contact our Non-Medical Benefits Practice Team:
Tina Santelli, CBC, GBDS
Vice President, Specialty Benefits
Tiffany Brown, GBDS