Headaches, Deadlines and Cybercriminals, Oh My!

Aaaah, tax season is upon us:  Headaches, Deadlines and Cybercriminals, oh my!

Fraudulent tax filing has become one of the most common forms of cybercrime over the last decade,  and it does not appear to be getting much better.  

You may wonder how this information attained by the hackers.

Sometimes it is phished directly from the individuals via spoof emails or phone calls.   But most often, thieves target corporate HR and payroll departments by sending spoof emails from upper management, requesting all W-2 information to be sent immediately.  The identity thieves then use the stolen data to file fake returns themselves, or, as seen recently, to sell that information on the black market. They have even been known to successfully victimize tax professionals.

Tax fraud impacts millions of Americans each year, and most are not aware of the fraud until after the fraudulent claim is filed and their legitimate return is rejected.  In fact, this scam can also be run on citizens who are not required to file, and who are not actually due a refund.

While it may be nearly impossible to keep your data from being stolen, there are steps you can take to keep your return from being fraudulently filed:

  • File First.  This is the best way to keep the criminals from filing your return.  Remember, even if you are not owed a rebate, you still may be a target.
  • Request Form 14039 and an IP PIN.  Citizens who believe they have been victims of identity fraud can fill out Form 14039 to request an IP PIN.  Considering all of the data breaches this year, it is likely that almost all Americans have been impacted by at least one hack.
  • Monitor your Credit.  You are entitled to one free report from each of the credit bureaus each year; dispute any activity that seems unusual, and don’t be afraid to freeze your credit if necessary.
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