Protecting yourself

Beware of tax rebate scams

Emily Crone

Tax season is the jackpot for identity thieves. Millions of documents containing personal and financial information linger in mailboxes and float about the Internet. The FTC has just released a warning to consumers about two tax-time schemes to be aware of.

One scam involves a consumer receiving a call, supposedly from the IRS, Social Security Administration or other government agency. The caller claims to need some personal information, such as a Social Security number or bank account number, in order to process a tax rebate check.

Another scam involves e-mails, which also appear to come from a government agency. In some cases, the e-mail has a link that takes the consumer to a fake but official-looking Web site that phishes for personal information. In other cases, the link takes the user to a site that is legitimate, but spyware or malware is installed on the computer in the process.

The FTC wants consumers to know that the IRS and SSA will never contact them by e-mail or phone to collect information about government rebates. If you are contacted by phone or e-mail for such information, do not fall for it, and report the incident to the IRS at or the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

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