Authored by ROBERT BLAKELY, CFP®, AIF®, CHFC®
Over the past several weeks, I have received quite a few calls on my cell phone warning me about activity in my Social Security account. Luckily, I know these are fake calls and I hang up, but there are many people that are scared by these calls and are lured in, calling the number back and providing personal information, including their Social Security numbers and bank account information.
Tax time is upon us and this is the perfect time for hackers to utilize Social Security numbers to claim tax refunds before legitimate taxpayers have a chance to file their tax returns.
In addition to the increase in phone calls, there is also an increase in fake documents by email, convincing victims to comply with the demand for Social Security numbers, bank account information and payments. These letters oftentimes use official letterhead and government jargon. A telltale sign that these letters are from scammers is misspelled words and grammatical errors in addition to demands of payment with gift cards, cash, internet currency, wire transfers or prepaid debit cards.
In the event there is a real problem with your Social Security record, Social Security will mail you a letter. There might be an attempt to claim one of your dependents as their own on another tax return. Learn more at What to Do When Someone Fraudulently Claims Your Dependent.
You might find that your tax return was rejected due to a duplicate Social Security number. You will have to fill out the IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Respond immediately by calling the toll-free number and have a copy of your prior year’s tax return to verify your identity. Once you verify your identity and determine with the Social Security department that there was an attempt by scammers to file your return, the IRS will remove the fraudulent return and allow you to file using a paper return for the current filing season. If it was your legitimate return filed by you, it will be released for processing and your refund will be sent.
In the unfortunate event that your identity has been compromised, visit Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How it Works for direction.
Just remember, now more than ever, you must protect your Social Security number and keep it safe from these scammers. Follow these best practices, in order to keep your information safe:
- Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize and do not provide personal information through an email
- Do not click on links in those emails
- Consider credit freezes that allow new credit and accounts from being opened in your name. Check on your credit report annually at annualcreditreport.com
- Maintain strong passwords for all online access
And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to call our team at Blakely Financial for more information.
Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other expert advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.
ROBERT BLAKELY, CFP® is a financial advisor with BLAKELY FINANCIAL, INC. located at 1022 Hutton Ln., Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262. He is the founder and president of Blakely Financial, Inc. celebrating 25 years in business.
Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.