Identity thieves profiting from fraudulent tax refunds
Identity thieves are shifting their attention towards new tactics, according to ABC News, and law enforcement officials have recognized a clear spike in fraudulent tax refunds.
Once identity thieves have gathered a person's name, Social Security number and date of birth, they have all the information they need to file these fraudulent tax claims - and they are doing so by the thousands.
According to the news outlet, nearly 600,000 tax payers have already been affected this year alone, with hackers turning an average profit of $3,400 per case. Consumers then have to face a complex, and often lengthy, resolution process to clear their names and restore their funds.
"It is unacceptable to have innocent tax payers waiting 12 to 18 months to verify their identity before a replacement refund check is issued," Congressman Edolphus Towns told ABC. "We can and should do better."
While law enforcement officials and government agencies collaborate to address this concerning practice, consumers must take every precaution to make their personal information doesn't find its way into the wrong hands in the first place.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, customers should keep their PIN numbers and passwords private, as they represent the first line of online security defense. Using a different password for each profile or account and keeping them organized with a password manager can also help limit damage if a breach does occur.