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News & Information


With the 2018 tax filing season kicking off this week, the IRS today issued a warning about an emergent identity theft tax scam that targets tax preparers’ computers and, in some cases, involves depositing funds in victims’ bank accounts. The agency warned that cybercriminals are sending phishing emails to tax preparers that contain malware allowing them to make off with sensitive tax filer data. The fraudsters then use that information to file for fraudulent tax returns.

“In a new twist, the fraudulent returns in a few cases used the taxpayers’ real bank accounts for the deposit,” the IRS said. “A woman posing as a debt collection agency official then contacted the taxpayers to say a refund was deposited in error and asked the taxpayers to forward the money to her.” The novel approach comes as fraudsters continue modifying their efforts to steal tax refunds.

The IRS advised taxpayers who receive a direct deposit refund that they did not request to ask their bank to return the direct deposit to the IRS and to call the IRS to explain why it is being returned. “Keep in mind interest may accrue on the erroneous refund,” the agency added.

According to the FBI, reports of online romance scams have tripled over the last five years, with more than $220 million lost in 2016. Online romance scams typically involve a fraudster creating a fake profile to lure in victims, establishing a romantic relationship and eventually extorting money from their victims, which frequently include older Americans. Check out this infographic put together by American Bankers Association for tips on spotting these types of scams and how to avoid them. 
We are now accepting entries for our 11th Annual Customer Photo Calendar Contest. Enter online at https://photocontest.thefirst.com or email your photos to photocontest@thefirst.com. Click here for complete details and rules. Good luck!

In light of the recent Equifax data breach involving over 143 million Americans, here are some helpful links to protect your information.

Freeze your credit report. In the state of Maine this action is free to consumers. This is the best way to prevent identity thieves from obtaining credit in your name. Visit http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/file_freeze_info.htm (Opens in a new Window) - there are links and phone numbers for the three major credit bureaus on this site along with information about obtaining your free credit report and other important information. There will be a lot of scams related to this Equifax breach, so use this State of Maine site to get accurate information about credit reporting rather than clicking on links in emails or Facebook news stories.
 
The fourth major credit bureau, Innovis is not listed. This link will take you to their site, where credit freeze information is available: https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze (Opens in a new Window)
 
Whether you are on the list or not, this action will help protect you.