Even though about 5.4 million Illinois consumers were affected by the Equifax data breach of 2017, many have stopped thinking about the incident. Unfortunately, though, Social Security numbers were exposed in the breach. This means that the consumers involved will face increased identity theft risk for years to come. In fact, this year, most security experts predict a huge uptick in tax scams and tax refund-related identity theft incidents. Therefore, these same experts strongly urge consumers in Illinois to file their tax returns as early as possible. This will give them a better chance at avoiding tax scams. It will also decrease the risk of identity thieves stealing their tax refunds.
The Most Common Scams Faced by Illinois Consumers when Filing their Tax Returns
The biggest reason that experts urge Illinois consumers to file their tax returns early this year is to prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent returns. In the wake of the Equifax breach, a wealth of consumer information is out there and exposed. So, it seems likely that fraudsters with access to this information will use it to illegally claim tax refunds in 2018.
Scammers know that consumers are on high-alert this season, so they may capitalize on this concern by running tax-related phishing scams. In fact, it is very possible that some Illinois consumers will get emails about identity theft that look like they were sent by the IRS. Then, if they click any of the links in the emails, the scammers who actually sent the emails will flood their computers with malware. With this in mind, please remember that the IRS never initiates contact with consumers through emails.
Fraudsters in Illinois also impersonate tax preparers during tax season. This is why no Illinois consumer should trust just anyone to prepare their tax return. Instead, when hiring a tax preparation service, check references, and research potential companies online. Often, scammers posing as tax preparers set up shop overnight in strip malls. Then, they leave just as quickly after stealing money and information from consumers. So, look for a company with a long-established reputation and published reviews from happy customers.
How Illinois Consumers Can Protect Themselves Against Identity Theft by Regularly Checking their Credit Reports
Illinois consumers should know that identity theft can happen any time, not just during tax season. Armed with your personal information, fraudsters can set up bogus credit card accounts in your name and ruin your credit score by defaulting on these accounts. They can also steal the numbers off your existing credit cards and run up fraudulent charges.
Obviously, you should protect your personal data as much as possible. For example, consumers in Illinois should only shop on secure websites and never share sensitive information while using public Wi-Fi. They should also keep a close eye on their purses and wallets while out shopping. In addition, they should limit what they share on social media platforms, and shred all unneeded documents containing private information.
Sadly, though, you can only do so much to guard yourself against identity theft. Thanks to massive security breaches, like the one with Equifax, fraudsters get their hands on sensitive data anyway. Yet, you can minimize the negative impact of identity theft by routinely checking your credit reports.
Just go to www.annualcreditreport.com once every 12 months, and request free copies of your credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Then, carefully review all three credit reports, and look for fraudulent transactions and bogus accounts. Next, if you spot signs of identity theft, file a police report immediately. Finally, after obtaining a copy of your police report, contact Credit Repair Lawyers of America in Illinois.
The credit pros at our firm help victims of identity theft in Illinois, and they will take you through the credit report recovery process, step by step. We’ll also connect you with an experienced credit attorney who will do whatever it takes to get you clean credit reports for FREE.
The Free and Legal Way to Get Better Credit After Identity Theft in Illinois
Don’t let identity theft damage on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (773) 360-0665 or sending him a message through our contact page.
For more information about Free Credit Repair After Identity Theft, please visit https://www.creditrepairlawyersam.com/illinois/identity-theft-repair/.