Huge Increase in Tax Identity Theft, New Helpful FTC Website, IdentityTheft.gov

Huge Increase in Tax Identity Theft, New Helpful FTC Website, IdentityTheft.gov Identity theft fraudsters used to steal consumers’ credit card information and run up charges. They still do, but now the fraudsters are stealing identity information to file fraudulent tax returns to get tax refunds in large numbers. In 2015, about 43% of the Federal Trade Commission’s complaints were related to use of stolen identities to get others’ tax refunds. Fraudsters also use someone else’s children as dependents in filing their tax returns to lessen their tax liability. Other crooks claim a tax refund using a deceased taxpayer’s information. Still...

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What is a Credit Privacy Number?

What is a Credit Privacy Number? Ever heard of a Credit Privacy Number (CPN)? It is a nine-digit identification number that looks like a social security number (SSN) and may be used instead of a SSN, for certain purposes. Consumers are often required to disclose their SSN to the IRS, employers, the DMV, when buying a gun, or applying for a federally insured loan. In certain circumstances, federal law allows consumers to legally use a separate identification number. CPNs are commonly used by celebrities, members of Congress, and witnesses in a federal protection program. However, CPNs can be misused. Shady...

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IRS Makes it Easier to Get Tax Liens off Credit Reports

IRS has changed its rules concerning the filing of tax liens against taxpayers, which IRS reports to the credit reporting agencies. Tax liens dramatically reduce credit scores. It has been difficult to get the tax liens off one’s credit reports even when the lien is paid. IRS said it changes will help people with tax debts get a fresh start. One of the biggest changes is that people who pay their tax debt in full or enter into a direct debit installment agreement can ask to have the tax lien withdrawn. Once that is done, the taxpayer may ask the...

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Credit Repair Scams: How To Spot Them

Consumers with poor credit naturally want to clean up their credit reports. But as Michelle Singletary reported in her Washington Post column last week, there are credit repair scammers out there that are perfectly willing to take consumers’ hard-earned cash and then fail to do anything useful. Worse, some of their “methods” can be unethical or even unlawful. Consumers should look for these red flags in deciding whether a credit repair organization is legitimate. Beware of credit repair organizations that do any of the following: 1) The company requires an upfront fee. Under the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act, it...

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Identity Thief Steals Bay Area Couple’s Tax Refund

Will and Gracie Tan suffered through identity theft, fake credit cards in their name, had their bank accounts raided and then learned that their tax refund was going to someone else, as Ken Garcia recently reported in the San Francisco Examiner. The Tans’ horrible experience illustrates how much damage sophisticated identity thieves can inflict upon consumers’ credit–and their bank accounts–with a few key items of identification. The Tans’ problems seems to have started last year, when they refinanced their mortgage. Garcia’s column doesn’t say who actually stole their identifying information, only that a ring of thieves in El Paso, Texas...

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