Wrapping up a special awareness series, the Internal Revenue Service and the Security Summit partners urged tax pros to maintain robust security measures and take important steps to protect themselves and their taxpayer clients against identity theft.
Tax-related identity theft scams continue targeting tax professionals with a regular bombardment of scams and schemes that seek to gain access to sensitive taxpayer information. These schemes continue to evolve and ensnare victims, threatening both tax professionals and the clients they serve.
In today’s conclusion of the special five-part “Protect Your Client; Protect Yourself” series, the IRS and Summit partners urge tax professionals to take critical steps to protect their information, including taking extra care with how they handle data and security at their business and at home.
“Tax professionals form a central part of the tax community’s defense against identity thieves and cyberattacks,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Ensuring strong security at a tax practice – regardless of its size – will help protect not just the business, but also help safeguard individual taxpayers as well as state and federal tax agencies from fraud. The IRS and the Security Summit partners continue to urge tax professionals to take important steps to protect their clients and themselves from identity thieves.”
With identity thieves continuing to target the tax community, Internal Revenue Service Security Summit partners today urged tax professionals to learn the signs of data theft so they can react quickly to protect clients.
The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry – working together as the Security Summit – reminded tax professionals that they should contact the IRS immediately when there’s an identity theft issue while also contacting insurance or cybersecurity experts to assist them with determining the cause and extent of the loss.
“Tax pros must be vigilant to protect their systems from identity thieves who continue to look for ways to steal data,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Practitioners can take simple steps to remain on the lookout for signs of data and identity theft. It’s critical for tax pros to watch out for these details and to quickly take action when tell-tale signs emerge. This can be critical to protect their business as well as their clients against identity theft.”
A recent study confirmed that over 16 million people were the victims of identity theft in the span of one year in America alone, which resulted in $16.8 billion in stolen money. Identity theft is dangerous to your wallet and to your credit. Identity thieves use your information to take out loans, obtain credit cards, make purchases, get apartment leases and much more. Since these items are acquired with your credentials, these people don’t bother paying bills on time or at all. In the vast majority of cases, when your identity is stolen you’ll be held responsible for all the outstanding debt.
Warning Signs Of Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission has outlined some helpful warning signs to know if your identity may have been stolen. These include:
- Unfamiliar bank activity on your bank statements
- Collection calls from debtors you don’t recognize
- Merchants suddenly declining your check purchases
- Unusual credit report activity
- Letters that you’ve been denied credit when you did not apply
- Bills for services you didn’t sign up for
- Unusual lack of mail
- Medical claim rejections
- IRS notice that your refund was already disbursed
- Published news that a company has had their data hacked
- Your wallet has recently been lost or misplaced
WASHINGTON – The IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry are warning small businesses to be on-guard against a growing wave of identity theft attempts against employers.
Small business identity theft is big business for identity thieves. When businesses and their employees have their identities stolen, their sensitive information can be used to open credit card accounts or file fraudulent tax returns for bogus refunds. Read More
It looks as if taxpayers have to be wary and skeptical even when they send their personal information to the IRS. This government agency is supposed to be trusted with our personal information. Especially at a time when criminals are posing as IRS agents over the telephone, through email, through our employers human resources departments and through schools you would think the IRS itself would be safe. But no!
New Security Step – IR-2016-124 (9/22/16) – The IRS alerted people filing an extended return electronically for 2015 (due 10/17/16), that they likely would be asked to enter their AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) for 2014. The purpose is to help properly identify the taxpayer. The information release reminds people how to order a tax transcript from the IRS should they not have it.
Seven defendants were sentenced for their roles in online fraud schemes involving counterfeit checks, “mystery shopper” websites and work-from-home scams. Funso Hassan, 27, of Ibadan, Nigeria, and Anthony Shane Jeffers, 44, of Maryville, Tennessee, each pleaded guilty on April 12, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and theft of government property and one count of use of mail and an interstate facility to distribute proceeds of a racketeering activity.
Each year, people fall prey to tax scams. That’s why the IRS sends a list of its annual “Dirty Dozen.” Stay safe and be informed – don’t become a victim.
If you get involved in illegal tax scams, you can lose money or face stiff penalties, interest and even criminal prosecution. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be on the lookout for these scams: Read More
NEW DEVELOPMENTS March 2016
Obama Care Penalty Exemptions
For taxpayers who didn’t have health care insurance in 2015, they may be eligible for waiver of the penalty which is $325 person ($162.50 for each child under age 18). Exemptions are for:
(1) taxpayers who can’t afford to pay the premium. This applies if the Read More
This past year, Identity Theft has become such a buzz word, that it needs to be revisited on my blog. Between scamming crooks on the phone from off-shore based call centers, hackers believed to be from Russia raiding the IRS website and some more hackers from China getting into the national data-base & managing to steal classified information of hundreds & thousands of federal employees, protecting one’s identity has become a top priority for all.
I wrote about Protecting Your Identity here earlier.
According to today’s news, the scammer who took millions with fake IRS calls from gullible taxpayers was sentenced to 14 years in prison. To many, getting a phone call from Read More
With Halloween coming up, it is just not the neighbor kids looking forward to trick or treat but also people pretending that they are the Internal Revenue Service looking to steal your identity and scam you for your money.
Listen to the story of Arati who works in New York City and immigrated to the U.S. from India. Arati received a call from a Brian Cruz who called her house early in the morning before Arati left for work. He left his telephone number, name and noted he was calling from the IRS. Arati put the number in her cell phone without searching for it online first. After all it had a 202 area code which is Washington D.C. so she figured it had to be official. Once she got into her car she called, and the man who picked up the call answered that this was the investigations bureau for the IRS. Arati asked for Cruz, but he Read More
Identity theft cost the Internal Revenue Service $5.2 billion in tax year 2013, according to an analysis from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. While the IRS estimates it prevented $24.2 billion in fraudulent refunds, there are still thousands of taxpayers whose tax refunds were delayed because a criminal beat them to the joyous task of filing tax returns.
Regardless of the fact that it’s not the best budgeting strategy, people often rely on their tax refunds to pay bills. When an identity thief files a fraudulent return which is usually done through the IRS e-filing system using someone’s Social Security number, that person won’t know about the fraud till they attempt to file themselves, and instead of the speedy refund they may have been counting on, they may have no idea when they’ll get their Read More