Scam artists go to great lengths to trick you out of your personal information or money. By educating yourself and knowing how to identify and report various schemes, you can stay several steps ahead of these thieves.
3 Tips to Protect Yourself
Understand the threats. Fraudsters use several forms of impersonation, advance fee, and phishing schemes. They might contact you and claim to be from SSA, the IRS, or another government agency and request your information. They might claim that you have won the lottery or become eligible for an investment if you pay an upfront fee. They might design emails or text messages that look legitimate and request your immediate response. Be aware of these types of schemes, so you can identify them and guard against them.
Exercise caution. In general, no government agency or reputable company will solicit your personal information over the phone or by email, or request advance fees for services in the form of wire transfers or gift cards. Build a habit of verifying the identity of anyone who asks for your personal information over the phone, and say you will respond through the entity's customer service channels. If anyone pressures you to provide information or money over the phone, just hang up.
Secure your information. Store your Social Security card in a secure location; avoid carrying it with you. Shred documents that list personal information such as your Social Security number and banking information. Avoid opening emails from unknown sources or clicking on suspicious hyperlinks. Equip your computing devices with strong anti-virus software and maintain strong passwords. Regularly check your credit reports for suspicious activity.
You may report suspicious activity or communications involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline.
If you believe you have been a victim of an IRS Impersonation Scam, please report that activity to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The Federal Trade Commission has many resources to help you report and recover from identity theft, at ftc.gov/idtheft.
Recent Fraud Advisories
Fact Sheet: Protecting Personal Information
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