CHANTILLY, Va., March 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a report by a national taxpayer advocate, the IRS identity theft caseload grew by 20 percent in 2011. As part of its ongoing commitment to educate consumers about identity theft protection, Intersections Inc. (Nasdaq: INTX), the provider of the award winning identity theft protection service IDENTITY GUARD® TOTAL PROTECTION(SM), has compiled a list of tips to guide consumers on how to help protect themselves from identity thieves during the tax season.
This important time of the year involves the exchange of a lot of documents and communications which contain sensitive personal information including addresses, Social Security numbers (SSN), employer information, and bank account numbers; all of which can be used to compromise or steal the identities of their owners. Identity thieves will use various scams and schemes to attempt to gain access to this information or con taxpayers into willingly and unknowingly hand it over.
"Scams during tax season are nothing new. Cybercriminals are getting smarter and have become more experienced in tailoring scams around specific times of the year, and tax season is a prime example," said Tim Rohrbaugh, Vice President of Information Security for Intersections Inc. "With the constant exchange of such valuable personal information, consumers must continue to remain vigilant and take extra precautions and care to help protect their identities."
In years past, fraudsters have used a number of methods to steal or obtain personal information. Fraudsters commonly masquerade as the IRS, calling and convincing unsuspecting tax payers to turn over their Social Security or bank account numbers in order to correct a factual error in their return or expedite the deposit of their refunds. Fraudsters have also distributed emails claiming to be from the IRS with attachments or links that contain Trojans or other malware that can easily empty the victim's bank account. And it's not just the mask of the IRS that has been used to con taxpayers into handing over data -- consumers also need to be cautious of emails or phone calls from property tax appraisers or local county tax assessors, which could just be another mask being used by identity thieves.