If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the last month several high profile companies were hacked and individuals’ personal information was compromised. The sites included health insurance providers, job searching sites, restaurant chains, a fitness and diet tracking website and even online photo storage sites. The numbers of people potentially involved in these breaches are staggering.
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T'is the season! Tax season that is. It’s also identity theft season. Last year over 100,000 people discovered that their identity had been stolen when they attempted to file their taxes. While the IRS and other tax jurisdictions have worked diligently to reduce the number of fraudulent filings, there is still a lot that you can do to protect yourself from identity theft.
If you’ve traveled you know how unproductive travel time can feel sitting and waiting for your plane. So, you figure you’ll just hop on the airport’s Wi-Fi and check your email or send out a proposal. NOT SO FAST!
Tax season is prime time for scammers and cyber criminals. Beyond identity theft, which is seemingly quite commonplace, tax scams have the dubious distinction of rising to the top of the Better Business Bureau's list of scams in 2016.
According to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, the top ten list includes:
- Tax scams
- Debt collections
- Online purchase
Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Secure driver's licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy. Law enforcement must be able to rely on government-issued identification documents and know that the bearer of such a document is who he or she claims to be.
The REAL ID Act is a coordinated effort by the states and the Federal Government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents, which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.
Do you remember when you were in school and the teacher would give each student a worksheet to “spot the difference” between two side-by-side detailed scenes? You would look carefully at each of the two images, trying to spot subtle details, such as an extra button on a shirt or a missing shoe on a person. Maybe it was the number of petals on a daisy or a cone of ice cream missing the cherry on top. The directions would indicate there would be six differences, but try as hard as you did, (and even when you asked a classmate for help) you could still only find four or five differences, and were convinced there was never a sixth.
Have you been notified by the IRS? You may want to think twice before responding to the call, email or letter.
The work of criminals knows no boundaries. Unfortunatley, this time of year brings another wave of antics to the forefront as the criminal will use various ploys to trick taxpayers into providing sensitive or personal identification information by posing as the IRS.
Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but now the IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.
The following article, written by Michael Cohn, first appeared on AccountingToday.com on May 27, 2016
The Internal Revenue Service issued a new warning Friday (May 27, 2016) to taxpayers about bogus phone calls from IRS impersonators demanding payment for a non-existent tax that they call the “federal student tax.”
The House passed bipartisan legislation May 16, 2016, to prevent taxpayer identity theft and help victims whose tax refunds have been stolen by identity thieves.
The bill was co-sponsored by a CPA turned lawmaker whose own identity was stolen last tax season.
H.R. 3832, Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act of 2016, would establish a centralized point of contact at IRS for ID theft victims; improve taxpayer notification of suspected identity theft; require the Internal Revenue Service to submit a study on the feasibility of establishing a program for victims of identity theft-related tax fraud to opt out of electronic filing; and establish an Information Sharing and Analysis Center to collect, analyze, and share actionable data and information to detect and prevent identity theft. Two core components of the bill were enacted last December and the rest were passed Monday.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, and John Lewis, D-Ga., the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee. Renacci is a CPA who also fell victim to identity theft.
Free e-book: Tax Return Fraud and Identity Theft: What to do if Your Identity is Stolen
“Today, the House passed my bipartisan bill to protect hardworking American taxpayers,” Renacci said in a statement Monday. “Tax-related identity theft is an evolving criminal activity that can happen to anyone. In fact, last tax season my identity was stolen and used to file a fraudulent tax return.”
The Ways and Means Committee passed the bill late last month (see House Committee Passes IRS Legislation on Identity Theft, Missing Children and Tax-Exempt Donors).
“We must do all we can to fight identity theft, return theft, fraud and scams,” said Lewis. “In the last few years, the Taxpayer Advocate staff assisting my constituents in Atlanta, and the caseworkers working in my District Office have seen an alarming increase in scams targeting the American taxpayer. H.R. 3832 responds to the real needs of real people. The Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act of 2016 is a good, bipartisan and timely legislative step in the right direction.”
The bill now moves to the Senate. "I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to ensure this bill is signed into law,” Renacci said.
“Every year, people across the country discover they are a victim of tax-related identity theft,” said Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas. “Congressman Jim Renacci turned his personal experience as a victim of identity theft into a legislative solution that will help protect all Americans. The bill we passed today will prevent fraud, increase transparency, and improve IRS customer service to better serve taxpayers. I appreciate Congressman Renacci’s leadership against a crime that impacts so many Americans.”
As management advisors, we strive to keep our readers informed, educated and in-step with the latest news surrounding business and personal cyber security. Knowlege is power -- and we are fortunate to receive many pieces of communication each day from credible agencies that help us guide you.
Today, we share insight from the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission's latest news.
Topics: identity theft