Internal Revenue Service Identity Theft Scams

There have been many articles written about scammers who pose as representatives of government agencies. But perhaps the most inventive are the scams that appear to originate from the IRS. It makes perfect sense for the IRS to reach out regarding your finances. And regardless of the season, the IRS is really always in business.

I’ve never received a call or an email from the IRS. As far as I know, they do not make calls or send emails. Emails that seem to come from the IRS will often have a name, title, and even “IRS” at the beginning or end of the email address. However, email addresses can easily be spoofed.

Unless you are actively engaged in dialog with an IRS agent, do not respond to emails or phone calls supposedly coming from the IRS.

If a scammer posing as an IRS agent ever contacts you, they may already have some of your personal information, which they can use to try to convince you that they are actually from the IRS. This data could come from public records or even your trash. The scammer will often put pressure on you to comply with their request, or even offer you a tax refund.

If you ever receive documentation in the mail indicating earned income that you are not aware of, it may mean that someone else has used your Social Security number to gain employment.

If, when filing your tax return, you receive a letter from the IRS saying that you have already filed, it almost certainly means that someone else has filed a fraudulent return on your behalf in order to steal your refund.

If you are ever a victim of an identity theft issue related to an IRS scam, you may be very disappointed in the way it is handled via the various government agencies. They simply don’t allocate the resources to fix this problem proactively, nor are they adept at responding once it has occurred. The biggest issue is the thief’s privacy. Even if you have an idea who may have done it, the IRS or any other government agency will not release that information. Either way, knowing who did it won’t help you.

All you can do in the event of tax related identity theft is to follow the IRS’s instructions for contacting an agent and resolving the issue. Just be patient, as rectifying the issue may take many hours.

McAfee Identity Protection includes proactive identity surveillance to monitor subscribers’ credit and personal information and access to live fraud resolution agents who can help subscribers work through the process of resolving identity theft issues. For additional tips, please visit

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss IRS related identity theft on Fox News. (Disclosures)

Identity Theft Targets Hispanic Community

Jose Marrero, who was born and lived his entire life in Puerto Rico, had no idea that someone else was using his name and Social Security number to charge thousands of dollars in Miami and Chicago. At least, not until the police showed up at his job to arrest him for car theft. Marrero told the Associated Press, “All of the information [on the warrant], all of it, the driver’s license, the Social Security, my address, was mine. I was shocked. I told them simply that it wasn’t me.”

In the U.S., a Puerto Rican’s identity is worth as much as $6,000, since it can be used to hide illegal immigrants. Like most personally identifying documents, Marrero’s were probably stolen from schools or church rectories.

Puerto Rican stolen identities have surfaced in immigration raids all over the country. “Birth certificates have become legal tender,” said Puerto Rico’s secretary of state. Here in the U.S. there are over 14,000 variations of the birth certificate. I personally have five versions of my own. That’s a stupid system.

Puerto Rico’s current solution is to void all existing birth certificates and have everyone reapply for new ones with better security, a plan that will make it harder to get fake documents in the future. But with millions of legal existing passports and driver’s licenses still valid, how is the real person identified?

The AP article states that the problem stems from the Puerto Rican tradition of requiring birth certificates to enroll in schools or to join churches, sports teams, or other groups. But the fact is, all Americans of every descent do the exact same thing. I remember having to bring my birth certificate with me to the YMCA summer camp. That’s why I have five, because we always needed duplicates for school, camp, even field trips!

Organized crime is likely involved in selling “tripletas,” consisting of a birth certificate, a Social Security card, and a driver’s license. Similarly, in criminal hacking communities, full sets of identifying information that can be used to steal an identity are packaged as “fullz” and sold for less than $100.

Victims face damaged credit, criminal records, and years of credit restoration. The time spent restoring one’s identity can potentially result in thousands of dollars in lost wages.

One victim, a 32-year-old married father of two whose credit has been ruined, told the AP that local authorities were dismissive: “They told me, ‘There are cases more important than that little case.’”

Not all identity theft can be prevented. However McAfee Identity Protection continually monitors your information and works to proactively protect you and will be there to assist you in the even your identity is compromised. Protect your most important asset, your identity.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee Consultant and Identity Theft Expert. See him discussing illegal immigrant identity theft on Fox news. (Disclosures)