Wednesday, August 26, 2015

When Identity Theft Hit Home – IRS edition – part of a series

Those who use the Internal Revenue system to steal money tend to focus on getting phony refunds.

Those who are into credit scams will use your identifying information to open accounts and borrow money, you may not aware of this activity for quite some time. Some will do both.

So where to start?

Don’t blame yourself. Unless you live in a cabin off the grid and pay cash for everything your data is in circulation and it is in jeopardy, usually through no fault of yours. So what to do?

Keep good files, keep them secure and keep vital information close at hand. You will need documents to start making your case.

About an IRS identity theft problem….

You may discover the problem when you receive a notice about how you and your spouse Jane or John Doe received an unwarranted refund. If you get a check you are not expecting, do not cash the check.

Problem is, you are not married to Jane or John, you may be single or married to a real spouse for a long time. So…..

FIRST, pull out your last three tax returns and call the number on the IRS notice. Immediately.

SECOND, check your financial accounts for theft, and start the process of checking your credit report. Consider fraud protection if you do not have it on your bank and credit accounts.

THIRD, file an IRS form 14039. If possible do not wait for the form to arrive in the mail, you or your tax preparer can get a form on-line. File according to instruction via certified mail. Make several copies.

If you have Internet access go to  for a big pile of resources.

FOURTH, if there is money missing or credit reports opened in your name file a police report to get this on the record. More on this in another post.

The IRS is working very hard to counter these problems, but the con artists stay ahead of them.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Scammers Posing as the IRS

This seems to be IRS week.

Con artists and scammers continue to steal money from the unsuspecting with telephone scams. The elderly are often targets.

The scam starts with a stern phone call from Special Revenue Agent Jones of the IRS. A computer program has discovered you owe money to the IRS and it must be paid IMMEDIATELY or there will be severe consequences. You can pay the money with a Western Union transfer or a Green Dot money card.

If the real IRS wanted money from you the first contact would usually be through the mail, there would be a letter and explanatory information about your rights. On a first contact the response time is usually 30 days.
Same for state tax agencies.

So, what do you do?

Hang up, or

Ask the caller for a call back number, tell him your lawyer or CPA will be in touch.

These guys are pros, they will turn up the heat and pressure you to respond. Do not.

NEVER give your credit card, debit card or bank account numbers over the phone to a "government agent."

NEVER send money to the government via wire or money card, the government does not accept money that way.

NEVER give or confirm your Social Security number on the phone (unless you initiated the call to a known phone number).

Always watch your mail for anything hinky alleged to be from the government or a creditor.


IRS Hack Attack

This week the IRS admitted the computer hacker attack was more widespread than initially reported.

Time to panic? Not really. The percentage of taxpayers hacked is still very small.


Hacking and identity theft are still a big problem, and identity thieves often use data to file bogus tax returns for refunds.

Best advice? Watch your mail. If you receive anything from a creditor or a government agency that looks strange follow up immediately (to an address or phone number you know you can trust). And see our next letter on telephone scamming.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It Must Be True! I Saw It On the Internet

The Internet is loaded every day with financial and investment advice and market news.

Problem is much of it is…….

too generic

too narrow, too broad

factually wrong


not customized to your situation

Many of the predictions would lead you astray, in the past five years we have seen predictions of market crashes, hyperinflation, deflation, gold at record levels, a silver boom, another economic meltdown and other really bad projections.

So where do you get good financial advice?

A series of posts will address that and many related issues.