Did you know tax-related identity theft and refund fraud is on the rise? The IRS makes it a top priority to stop tax-related identity theft and protect taxpayers from “refund fraud”. The agency has doubled the amount of staff that works on IRS identity theft issues and during tax season they expand their efforts to stop refund fraud.
During tax season the focus is on detection, prevention, and protection. Here are some of the ways the IRS is working to keep you and your family safe from tax-related identity theft.
- High quality identity theft filters help screen out fraudulent tax returns before refunds are issued.
- Criminal investigations into identity theft have been tripled and indictments are on the rise across the nation stopping thieves in their tracks with prison sentences as long as 20 years.
- State and local law agencies are allowed to obtain tax return data that help them investigate and pursue identity thieves.
- More than 130 financial institutions are working with the IRS to identify identity theft fraud and block thieves from receiving illegally obtained refunds.
- Taxpayers who have been victimized in the past now get an additional layer of security on their accounts via a PIN.
Be on alert if the IRS or your tax preparer contacts you about the following:
- More than one tax return was filed in your name.
- You have a balance due for a year you did not file.
- IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the IRS received information reporting that your income changed.
According to the IRS, if any of these things happen, you may be the victim of identity theft and should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245, immediately.
The IRS takes identity theft and tax-related fraud seriously and so should you! For more information visit the IRS.gov website to make sure you are taking steps to protect yourself from identity theft.
Image courtesy of Flickr user rykerstribe.