ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/26/16)--The Federal Trade Commission has announced Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week for 2016, and the National Credit Union Administration has new online resources to help consumers protect themselves and their information.
“Cyber hackers and old-fashioned thieves can trick people into divulging personal and financial information not only during tax season, but all year long,” NCUA Chair Debbie Matz said in a release Monday.
“NCUA has an ongoing commitment to protecting and educating consumers, helping them understand how they can prevent theft and informing them where to get help should they become victims of fraud.”
She announced that the agency has updated its tax-identity theft resources page on the MyCreditUnion.gov consumer website. The page includes information for preventing or reporting identity theft that may be perpetrated using fake contacts that appear to be legitimate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requests for taxpayer information.
Credit unions are encouraged to share this information with their members.
Consumers should be aware the IRS does not initiate contacts with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
This year's Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week runs through Friday.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that, in 2014, 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft with estimated losses of $15.4 billion. Tax season is a particularly busy time for identity thieves, and the IRS itself can be a target. IRS paid roughly $5.8 billion in fraudulent tax refunds in 2013 while preventing about $24 billion in cases in which it was able to detect and prevent fraud.
MyCreditUnion.gov also has numerous resource pages with information to help credit union members understand and prevent identity theft and protect themselves from other frauds and scams. NCUA also has videos describing how to fight against fraud on its YouTube channel.