Are you excited to receive your tax refund this year? Unfortunately, identity theft criminals are also looking forward to stealing your refund.

The Indiana Department of Revenue implemented increased security features this year to protect Hoosiers against identity theft and tax fraud. Within just the first month of tax season, the department has stopped more than $1.2 million in attempted tax fraud.

Identity theft is such a big problem during tax season because it’s when people gather all of their sensitive information into one place, making it easiest for criminals to steal information and tax refunds.

Some ways identity theft criminals can find your personal information are:
• From their friends or acquaintances
• By posing through a phone call or an email as someone who needs your information
• By looking through your trash for personal information
• By accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site or via a public Wi-Fi service

To avoid giving your personal information to identity theft criminals, follow the Indiana Department of Revenue’s four identity protection tips:

1. Don’t share your Social Security number (SSN) unless you have to. And never give it to a person when you did not make the initial contact.

2. Don’t leave your W-2s lying around. This gives visitors going in and out of your home access to them. Instead, keep your tax documents in a safe, locked box.

3. After you electronically file your tax return, save the file to a CD, USB drive, or external drive and then delete the return from your computer. Store the device in a safe, locked place. This ensures hackers can’t steal your information.

4. File your taxes electronically. It is significantly more secure than paper filing. Individual taxpayers may qualify to file their taxes online for free at www.freefile.dor.in.gov.

Be sure to pass along these tips to your friends and family to help protect their identities as well. For more information about identity protection, visit the Indiana Department of Revenue’s Stop ID Theft website at www.in.gov/dor/4794.htm.

To learn more about the results of the department’s increased security features, visit www.in.gov/dor/5079.htm.

Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills concluded, "Citizens need to be reminded that scams are everywhere. Be very careful with your private information. Do not give anything out over the phone or to just anyone who shows up at your doorstep. Do some investigating and ask some questions to verify, and make sure it is safe to give out that personal information. Don't throw away your hard earned money."

 

Support the troops, not scammers this Memorial Day

Scammers may try to use the significance of Memorial Day to ramp up efforts to prey on members of the military, veterans and their supporters.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said while the holiday is a time for Americans to remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice, fraudsters can prey on that sentiment in hopes of ripping you off.
If you would like to donate to a charity benefiting veterans or their families make sure your money will be well spent. Don’t wait on a call, email or visit from a solicitor, instead research reputable charities and contact the organization directly.
For example, you can visit the Internal Revenue Service’s
website that maintains a list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Next, find out how much the charity spends on administrative expenses, fundraising, programs and services. Several independent organizations have compiled financial information on charities, especially those that conduct nationwide solicitation campaigns. For a list of these organizations you can also visit the “Charities and Donors” section of the Attorney General’s website.
If you are contacted or visited by a solicitor the Attorney General’s Office recommends following these guidelines:

  • Ask the person for written information on the charitable organization, including the charity's name, address, telephone number, mission and details on how your donation will be used;
  • Watch out for charities with similar sounding names. Some unscrupulous charities use names that are very similar to those of respected organizations to scam consumers;
  • Be suspicious if the solicitor or an invoice in the mail thanks you for making a pledge that you didn't make. If you have any doubt about whether you made a pledge, check your records;
  • Under Indiana law, you have the right to cancel a pledge prior to making a contribution; and
  • Always make contributions by check and payable to the charitable organization, not to the solicitor.

 

Tips for staying safe with modern day technology

GPS

If you have a GPS do not put your home address in it.  Put a nearby address (like a store or gas stations) so you can still find your way home but non one else would know where you live if your GPS was stolen.  If it was stolen from an event, etc. the thief would know you were not home and they could use the GPS to locate your home and burglarize it.

Mobile Phones

Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.  Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom, etc.... (If someone steals your phone they would know who to text questions about PIN numbers, bank accounts, etc.)
And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back.

Also, when you're being text by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came

from them. If you don't reach them, be very careful about going places to meet 'family and friends' who text you.

Ripley County Sheriff