The IRS on Identity Theft
Be aware! The IRS has issued warnings to taxpayers to protect their tax-related information from thieves. These thieves may want to use an individual’s stolen Social Security number to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. The IRS has issued warnings, in a series of news releases. IRS personnel are increasing awareness in order to keep taxpayers from becoming victim to the common scams. The IRS is also allocating resources in order to pursue criminals who file fraudulent claims and who misuse another individual’s Social Security Number.
The Internal Revenue Service issued a warning on January 27, 2015, that taxpayers should be alert for any strange activities that might result in their identity being stolen. The IRS has included identity theft as one of the year’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams. The IRS compiles the Dirty Dozen and informs others of the incidents and crimes that can occur any time of the year, but especially during tax season. In order to combat identity theft, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said that, “We remain dedicated to stopping tax-related identity theft and protecting taxpayers, and we [the IRS] are making important progress on that front… Scams can be sophisticated and take many forms. We urge people to protect themselves and use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues.”
Aggressive efforts have been made to stop various forms of identity theft from 2011 through October 2014. These efforts helped stop nineteen million suspicious returns and protected clients from collectively losing over $63 billion in fraudulent refunds. The IRS has been working with financial institutions to identify and stop fraudulent refunds. IRS officials have initiated 1,063 identity theft-related investigations, which have resulted in 748 sentencings in fiscal year 2014. Even though fighting identity theft is a battle that has just started, the IRS is continually reviewing processes and policies to minimize the incidence of identity theft.
Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive an IRS notice or letter that states that more than one tax return was filed using your SSN or that you owe additional tax, refund offset, or had collection action taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return. You may also be a victim of identity theft if IRS records indicate that you received wages from an employer unknown to you.
The IRS has advised taking certain precautions in order to combat identity theft in a more proactive manner. You should not carry with you your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Do not give a business your confidential information just because they ask – only give it when absolutely necessary. You need to protect your financial information. On top of that, check your credit report every 12 months to validate if the information is correct, review your Social Security Administration earnings annually, and secure personal information in your home.
Robert V. Boeshaar Attorney at Law, LL.M.,PLLC
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