Reports from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicate that tax-related identity theft has significantly declined, but they continue to implement security measures to keep taxpayers safe. When it comes to tax scams, this type of theft made their list of scams, called the “Dirty Dozen.”
“The Dirty Dozen is compiled each year by the IRS and outlines a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year,” the IRS states. “Many of these cons peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire tax professionals.”
When someone uses a stolen Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to file a fraudulent tax return claiming a refund, they are commiting tax-related identity theft. These cases are handled by the Security Summit in an effort to beat the scammers by enacting a series of safeguards to prevent theft.
Since working with the Summit, starting in 2015, the IRS has noticed that the number of identity theft victims has fallen nearly 65 percent between 2015 and 2017.
Criminals might be forced to get more creative due to the success of past security measures, however, taxpayers and tax professionals should stay vigilant with how they are inputting and storing information. Some tips for secure filing are below:
Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records stored on the computer. Use strong passwords.
Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as banks, credit card companies and government organizations, including the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.
At Tax Defense Partners, we take these issues seriously and we continue to stay updated on current threats so we can prevent interference and inform clients of potential issues. We always go the extra mile to prevent taxpayers and businesses from the risks – contact us for help today!