Tax Identity Theft: Ashley Moody’s Warning
By Space Coast Daily // February 9, 2021
With the pandemic paralyzing most sectors and rendering most people jobless, there has been an increase in crime rates. Most specifically, there has been a surge in online crime and fraud. The most common crime is Tax identity theft.
Tax identity theft is when a different person uses your personal information and social security number to apply for tax refunds. Often, fraudsters get this information from you or your previous online registrations.
Other taxpayers’ identity theft is when a fraudster uses the taxpayer’s information to claim their child as the fraudster’s dependent. And when the fraudsters use taxpayer information to apply for and get a job, then remit tax that doesn’t match the IRS records.
Warnings About Tax Identity Theft
It is a new year, and governments expect their citizens to file their tax returns for 2020. This exercise has begun in most countries, and the United States citizens are not spared.
On February 1, the attorney general, Ashley Moody, took part in the Federal Trade Commission’s unveiling of the new resource that will put tax identity theft at a glance. These are measures to create awareness for citizens and to protect them from such cybercrimes. Besides paying tax gives you best offers as a filler.
This year’s resources include a tax identity theft brochure with detailed information on how citizens should avoid fraudsters’ traps. This is by telling them how best they should protect their personal details from landing on wrong eyes.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, over 600,000 people fell victim to identity theft in 2019. This was a 200,000 increase in the number of those who lost their identity to fraudsters in 2018.
With those figures and the pandemic effects, the Federal Trade Commission can only imagine that the numbers will increase should citizens not take care of their details.
Contents of The Brochure
Here is part of what the tax identity theft awareness brochure contains:
It urges citizens to use only certified preparers.
Before engaging a preparer, they should take his full history to know how long he has been in that business and if he is available outside tax seasons.
They should determine how the preparer stores personal information and if he has ever had tax identity fraud cases.
Citizens should also ensure the preparer they use is licensed by all regulatory bodies, and if possible, verify those licenses with the Florida Bar.
Identifying Fraudulent Tax Returns
Often, it may not be easy to know if your tax details have been stolen. There are, however, some indicators to this. They include:
1. Getting a message from the Internal Revenue Service on missing years’ tax returns or additional taxes.
2. Getting mails of tax returns when they have not made any requests for them
3. Being unable to file returns because of a duplicate Social Security Number
4. Getting notices of new account creation in your name using your details
5. Getting IRS notifications of additional taxes, refunds or a refund collection not done by you.
6. Getting messages of receiving wages or payment from an unknown employer.
7. Getting unsolicited prompts to change your personal data on the IRS site
How To Stop Tax Identity Theft
As mentioned earlier, one may not recognize tax identity theft until it happens. The following ways, however, may limit one’s chances of falling victim.
■ Filling their returns immediately the return period starts. Delaying may give fraudsters ample time to file fake returns before the right taxpayer does.
■ Not engaging a preparer who promises huge refunds than the others. Most often, those are illegitimate. As the saying goes, when the deal is too good, one should think twice.
■ Not mailing the returns from home. If one has to use paper-based mailing systems, they should send those directly from the mail office.
■ Familiarizing oneself with how the IRS operates. For instance, the IRS rarely engages in conversations via email of a phone call for the first time. They will always send letters to taxpayers.
■ Getting an IRS identity protection PIN. This will prompt you to give permission any time your data is accessed. No further progress can occur minus one’s consent.
■ Using a secured internet connection when filing taxes electronically. If possible, they should avoid public networks and stick to their home networks during this activity.
In case anybody falls victim, they should contact the IRS immediately and complete form 14039. They should also launch complaints at the Attorney General’s office in Florida and attach a completed for the previous year’s tax returns.
Most of all, they should guard their personal details and Social Security Number against falling into the wrong hands.