FTC Plans Webinar, Twitter Chats to Promote National Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

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tax identity theftIt’s a New Year and, believe it or not, it’s also time to start thinking about tax season! While you may not think about filing your return until April, scammers and fraudsters are already thinking of ways to bilk you out of your hard-earned refund this year.

Did you know, for example, that the IRS has called identity fraud its number-one problem in an annual “dirty dozen” list of tax-time crimes? Taxpayers must avoid falling into a trap set by scam artists. Their dirty tricks may arrive in-person, online, or by email with misleading promises about lost refunds and free money. Don’t be fooled by these scams.

Identity-theft cases are the most complex cases because identity thieves look for ways to use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity and personal information to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund.

That’s why we’re thrilled to see that the Federal Trade Commission is stepping up its game by naming next week — January 13-17 — Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. The FTC will host national and regional events designed to raise awareness about tax identity theft and provide consumers with tips on how to protect themselves, and what to do if they become victims.

Accounting for more than 43% of the FTC’s identity theft complaints in 2012, tax identity theft was the largest category of identity theft complaints by a substantial margin. In addition, the percentage of tax ID theft complaints nearly doubled, from just over 24% in 2011.

“Tax identity theft is a significant and growing issue,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It’s critical that we make sure consumers are aware of how they can prevent it, and if they are victimized, what steps they can take to recover as quickly as possible.”

Events planned for the week include webinars led by FTC staff in both English and Spanish, a bilingual Twitter chat hosted by @FTC and @laFTC, and a series of regional events (see below) hosted by the FTC throughout the country with a focus on states with the highest number of tax identity theft complaints. Additionally, the @FTC will be joining the Identity Theft Resource Center (@ITRCSD) for the monthly #IDTHEFTCHAT Twitter Chat on Thursday, January 16th at 2PM EST.

Regional Events (listed alphabetically, by state)

California
Consumer Education Presentation
When & Where: January 15, 2014, 10:45am PST
Sparr Heights Community Center, 1613 Glencoe Way, Glendale, CA 91208

Maryland
Consumer Education Seminar
Event Details: opening remarks by US Attorney Rod Rosenstein and delegate Susan Lee panel presentation by IRS, AARP, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC), MD Cash, Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center/National Identity Theft Victims’ Assistance Network hosted by Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs
When & Where: January 14, 2014, 7-9pm EST
Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Rd, Laurel, MD 207

Nevada
Consumer Education Presentation
Event Details: presentation by IRS & Nevada Legal Services
When & Where: January 14, 2014, 5:00pm PST
West Charleston Library, 6301 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89146

Virginia
Consumer Education Seminar
Event Details: presentation by FTC, AARP & Veterans Administration organized by the Army Retirement Residence Foundation-Potomac (ARRFP) and BWHCC Family Council
When & Where: January 14, 2014, 11am-12:30pm EST
The Fairfax Retirement Community – Auditorium, 9160 Belvoir Woods Parkway, Ft. Belvoir, VA 22060

Washington
Webinar (link to be added here closer to the event)
Event Details: featuring FTC & IRS
When & Where: January 14, 2014, 2-3:30pm PST

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Elaine Rigoli

Elaine Rigoli is PRIVATE WiFi's manager of digital content strategy.