IRS Warns of New Scam Targeting the Military

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Nothing is off-limits for scammers and identity thieves when it comes to finding new targets to victimize.  The IRS has reported that there is a new identity theft scam going around that targets members of the active military, military retirees and civilian personnel of the Armed Forces.  Claiming that these individuals may be able to receive additional benefits from the IRS in case of disability, the scam attempts to gather personal information that can be used to steal the victim's identity or access the victim's bank accounts.

Emails from the scammers appear to be from "Defense Finance and Accounting Services" and use a .mil email address, though such an address is easy to spoof online.  The email explains about the additional benefits that the recipient may be entitled to and requests copies of various forms such as Veteran's Administration award letters and past tax returns, both of which contain valuable personal and financial information that identity thieves can do a lot of damage with.  The copies must be sent by mail to an address here in Florida, eliminating the need for the scammer sending the email to include a return address in the message.

The additional benefits are fake, of course.  Disability claims are handled by the Social Security Administration, not the IRS, and veteran's benefits are issued through the Veteran's Benefits Administration branch of the VA.  As disability benefits are generally tax free, the IRS has very little involvement with disability cases regardless of where they originate; moreover, any communication from the IRS or disability issuers is done via mail and not through unsolicited emails.  Even if they were to send an email, the IRS, the Social Security Administration and the Veteran's Administration all use the .gov extension for their domains instead of .mil.

It takes a particularly depraved thief to specifically target our military personnel and their families. Every group that has a chance of being convinced that they're due additional money is potentially a target, even if those in question could use the money because they were injured in service to their country.  If you receive an email like this you should report it to the IRS or VA immediately; don't send these scammers any information that they could use to steal your identity.

The IRS offers up a few tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft, and I've added a bit more information to these points based on my own experience as well.  You've likely seen me say some of these things before, but they definitely bear repeating.

  • Don't carry your Social Security card with you or any other documents with your SSN on it.
  • Don't give a business your SSN just because they ask.  Give it only when it's required for the purposes of employment or establishment of an account that will affect your credit history.
  • Protect your financial information.  Don't give out account numbers, bank statements or your PIN.
  • Check your credit report every 12 months. This can be done for free at
  • Secure personal information in your home using a fireproof lockbox.  This not only keeps your information safe from prying eyes but also protects vital documents in case of fire or other damage to your home.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and antivirus software. Keep your security patches updated and change your passwords regularly on all Internet accounts.
  • Don't give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unlessyou have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with. If all else fails, get the person's name, the name of the company they work for and a contact number that you can reach them at and ask if you can call back in a few minutes.  Research the company online to make sure that it is legitimate and that the contact number is correct before returning the call.

Visit the IRS for more information  

Avoid identity theft by staying alert to the various scams and hoaxes. 

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