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Protect yourself from phishing scams during tax season

by | Apr. 1, 2015, 4:14 PM

(iStockphoto)

In light of the large number of phishing breaches across the nation this past year, Vanderbilt IT would like to raise awareness about phishing during tax season. Last weekend, there was a series of reports about identity theft and tax fraud, some of which involved members of the Vanderbilt community.

As a reminder, if you receive a suspicious email or phone call, please report it to the Dell-staffed Vanderbilt IT Help Desk at (615) 343-HELP or the Tech Hub at (615) 343-9999.

There are measures you, your spouse and/or any dependents can take to reduce the risk and enable early detection of tax fraud. VUIT strongly recommends completing the following:

  • Set up an SSA.gov account (My Social Security) before a scam artist sets one up as you, your spouse or your dependents.
  • Consider signing up for Opt-Out to reduce unsolicited credit card requests by calling (888) 5OPT-OUT or registering online at optoutprescreen.com.
  • Order your free credit report yearly and review it by visiting annualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228.
  • Set up a separate email address to be used exclusively for your financial and tax information. Consider using multifactor authentication on this email account.
  • Consider reviewing your digital footprint (all of your email addresses, log-ins to shopping sites, social media sites, etc.) and take steps to reduce your footprint whenever possible.
  • Consider the use of a professional service, or check with your insurance carrier to learn about any services they offer.

If you think that you are the victim of identity theft or tax fraud, here is some helpful information:

  • Report it to your local law enforcement and create an “Identity Theft Report” with the Federal Trade Commission.  For additional guidance, please visit consumer.ftc.gov.
  • Report it to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service identity theft hotline by calling (800) 908-4490 (expect long hold times).
  • Consider a credit freeze and alert by calling (877) 322-8228 or visiting the FTC’s Credit Freeze FAQs.
  • If you are a TurboTax user, call (800) 944-8596 (expect long hold times).

Media Inquiries:
Leslie Schichtel Buchanan,
leslie.buchanan@vanderbilt.edu