This week we’ve been working with the parents, of an employee, of a client. Do we usually do this? No. But when something extraordinary presents itself and we can help we will. Long story short. They were scammed, the home computer was infected (a MAC, btw) and their identify was stolen the first indication of which was the filing of a false tax return in which someone (not them) got a handsome check from the government. It happens all the time. A friend of mine in my neighborhood had the same thing happen to her. In fact thousands of people are now finding that they’ve been hacked and usually they are finding out when they go to file their tax return and the response is sorry you’ve already filed.
Where did they get the information? Was it your computer, a website, your bank, your library card, your insurance company, a credit card, mortgage company? Since you don’t know how or where someone got your identification from you have to cancel everything.
Start as if you’ve lost your wallet. This means new credit cards; new everything.
Then close your bank accounts and open new ones. Keep a permanent suspicious activity alert on those accounts. Consider removing online banking from the accounts. I keep two sets of accounts; one that has online banking with very limited funds and another than does not. Both require in person only account changes.
Follow the FTC recommendations.
Follow the IRS recommendations.
Get An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN):
Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft:
ID Theft Tool Kit: Are you a victim of identity theft? If you receive a notice from the IRS, please call the number on that notice. If not, contact the IRS at 800-908-4490. Fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. (Please write legibly and follow the directions on the back of the form that relate to your specific circumstances.) http://www.irs.gov/file_source/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf
Change your passwords…everywhere. Have your computers formatted and reloaded.
Above all take this seriously. It’s a giant hassle but it will never go away unless you go through this process and do it with some speed.