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Here’s what you need to know about tax season scams

By 37ci3 Mar4,2024



Tax refunds are often a financial boon for Americans, but they’re increasingly being targeted by fraudsters who can use your identity to get money owed to Uncle Sam.

last year, The IRS received 294,138 complaints identity theft, the second largest data theft in history. The highest number was 328,591 in 2021, reflecting a massive increase in cybercrime amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

To process your tax return, the IRS requires some personal information, including your home address and Social Security number, to verify your identity. In an ideal world, no malicious actor would have access to this information. Unfortunately, there is more data breaches almost every yearand the online cybercrime ecosystem is full of criminals who trade and sell Americans’ data.

While the Internal Revenue Service is better at preventing tax identity theft with its internal filters, you’re more likely to fall victim if you take some security measures into your own hands. This means filing your taxes quickly, registering with the IRS IP PIN software and to be vigilant to avoid falling for scammers who falsely claim to work for an agency.

That means fraudsters who want to file a false tax return in your name already have all the information they need to do so, said Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit that helps identity theft victims.

“With a data breach situation, we all have to work under the assumption that all the information we need to file a false tax return on your behalf is out there,” Velasquez said.

Stop tax ID theft before it starts

Many victims only find out they’ve been scammed when they go to file their tax return and realize someone has already done it on their behalf. This means that one of the best ways to stop cheaters is to beat them as soon as possible.

Another way to avoid scammers is for the IRS to send you a unique code called an IP PIN. Similar to a two-factor authentication codeIP PIN provides additional security by requiring only the code you need to enter.

Just because some thieves have your personal information doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for them. Scammers have long claimed to work for the IRS in emails, texts and phone calls to trick people into giving out their personal information. There is now a rise in a particular type of scam where callers will pretend to work for a government agency, sometimes the IRS, and trick the victim into saying they’ve already experienced identity theft, Velasquez said.

But there is an easy way to recognize these scams: with politics, The IRS never creates digital contact with taxpayers request personal information. Anyone who asks you for this information via text, email, or social media and claims to be the IRS is lying.

The IRS never asks for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Even if the call appears to be from an official number, such as on the IRS website, scammers can spoof the number they’re calling. The IRS also accepts payment exclusively in US dollars. It will also never insist that you pay it with a gift card or cryptocurrency – a real agency won’t even accept these as payment.

If you’re still confused about whether someone you’re dealing with is related to the IRS, you can always reach out. call or ask ITRC directly for a free consultationVelasquez said.

If you are a victim

Preventing tax ID theft is easier than recovering it. According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, the IRS’s internal watchdog, through 2023 the agency will need an average of 19 months — more than a year and a half — to resolve identity theft cases. As of the end of September 2023, the agency still had 484,000 of those jobs backlogged.

That doesn’t mean all hope is lost if someone files a false return on your behalf. If this happens, you must notify the government immediately. The Federal Trade Commission offers a one-stop shop, identitytheft.gov, to help victims. It helps you fill out the appropriate paperwork with the IRS, but also offers resources on other types of identity theft.

“If someone experiences tax identity theft, they may unknowingly experience other types,” says Colleen Tressler, senior project manager in the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education.

“We are taking recovery steps. We also explain other identity theft steps people can take, such as how to initiate a fraud alert and credit freeze if they find something on their credit report,” Tressler said.



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By 37ci3

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