Be alert for identity theft this tax season
We’ve all heard about hackers stealing credit card and debit card numbers, and most of us know to check our account statements for unusual activity. But hackers are also targeting social security numbers and other personal information in order to file fraudulent tax returns and obtain refunds from others.
Faculty, staff and patients are all potential targets for identity theft. Identity theft may involve:
- Phishing messages that attempt to trick you into handing over account passwords
- Individuals, including workforce members with access to medical records, taking patient information directly from the records
Over the past few years, several U-M workforce members who responded to phishing messages had their personal information compromised. This type of fraud is increasing, and it’s important to protect personal information in all venues.
The Compliance Office provides guidelines to assist in responding to possible tax fraud, but it’s far better to recognize and avoid phishing attempts before they can damage your finances. Learn more about recognizing phishing attempts by watching this informative video from U-M ITS Safe Computing.
Identity theft involving medical and personnel records
Identity theft occurs when a person’s identity or identifying information has been assumed or used by someone else to profit illegally or commit an unlawful act (e.g. using someone’s personal information to fraudulently apply for a credit card or filing a fraudulent tax return).
Many are familiar with identity theft involving retail outlets, but identity theft from patient medical records is also a growing problem, and it may involve those who have access to those records through their jobs. UMHS Compliance conducts regular audits of accesses to the electronic medical record systems to monitor for inappropriate access and enforces the Privacy Violation Disciplinary Action Policy.
To learn more about identity theft, see:
- U-M ITS Safe Computing: Protect Your Identity
- UMHS Compliance Topic: and FAQs: Identity Theft
- U-M ITS Safe Computing Video: Spear Phishing
If you believe you have been the victim of a fraudulent tax filing, take these steps immediately:
- Alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit by calling (800) 908 – 4490 or going to http://www.irs.gov/uac/Reporting-Fraud-and-Abuse-Within-the-IRS-E-File-Program and complete the Identity Theft Affidavit, here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3949a.pdf.
- Alert the Michigan Department of Treasury by calling (517) 636-4486 or by email at Treasury-ReportIDTheft@michigan.gov or mail to:
Identify Theft Unit
Income Tax Division
P.O. Box 30477
Lansing, MI 48909
- Place a freeze on your credit report with all three Credit Bureaus to prevent accounts being opened in your name.
- Equifax: (800) 525-6285
- Experian: (888) 397-3742
- TransUnion: (800) 680-7289
- File a report with your local police department
If you suspect identity theft (yours or a patient’s), immediately notify your supervisor.