DON’T BECOME A VICTIM
With identity theft and fraud always prevalent, I continue to advise my clients on how to avoid becoming a victim. Pervasive telephone scams, another form of identity theft and fraud, is becoming increasingly common. Identity theft and pervasive telephone scams top The IRS “Dirty Dozen” List (listing complied each year by the IRS showing a variety of common scams taxpayers can encounter throughout the year).
The IRS has seen a recent increase in telephone scams across the country, with callers pretending to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims. I have also had several clients report receiving these types of calls.
The telephone scams include many variations, ranging from instances from where callers say the victims owe money
or are entitled to a huge refund. Some calls can threaten arrest and threaten a driver’s license revocation. Sometimes
these calls are paired with follow-up calls from people saying they are from the local police department or the state motor vehicle department.
REPORTED CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE SCAMS CAN INCLUDE:
- The use of fake names and IRS badge numbers when calling
- The scammer may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number
- The scammer will “spoof” or imitate the IRS toll-free numberon caller ID to appear it is actually the IRS calling
- Scammers will sometimes send bogus IRS emails to victims tosupport their bogus call
In cases where identity theft occurs typically an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file (E-File) a tax return and claim a refund early in the filing season. You may be unaware that this has happened until you file your tax return later in the filing season and you will get a notice that two returns have been filed using the same SSN. Thus innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.
If you or your tax professional receives notice from the IRS that your tax records may have been compromised, respond immediately to the name and/or number printed on the notice or letter. You will have to fill out IRS Identity Theft Affidavit Form 14039. In addition the IRS will issue a six- digit identity protection (IP) PIN number that must be used when filing your tax return. IP PIN’s are valid for only one year. A new number is issued every year for three years after the identity theft incident.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM BECOMING A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT AND PERVASIVE TELEPHONE SCAMS:
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that display your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required and you know who is asking for information
- Check your credit report every 12 months
- Secure personal information in your home, including usingcomputer firewalls, anti/virus software, update security patches andchange passwords for internet accounts
- Remember the IRS does not typically initiate contact withtaxpayers via phone or email for an initial request for financialinformation or payment. This includes any type of electroniccommunication such as text messages or social media.
- If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft,but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse, orwallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, you mayconsider contacting the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit.
- If you’ve been targeted by these scams, you can contact theFederal Trade Commission and use their “FTC ComplaintAssistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
In my practice I have seen where identity theft cases are extremely complex to resolve, frequently touching on multiple issues and multiple tax years. We must continue to remain vigilant to guard our personal information.
If you should have a topic that you would like me to discuss or if you should have a question, please feel free to call 239.403.4410 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An enrolled agent, licensed by the US Department
of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS
for audits, collections and appeals. To attain the enrolled
agent designation, candidates must demonstrate expertise
in taxation, fulfill continuing education credits and adhere
to a stringent code of ethics.
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