Consumer Advice

Take Steps to Avoid Tax Fraud

Here are some steps you can take to make it less likely that you will be the next victim of tax refund fraud:

  • File before the fraudsters do it for you – Your primary defense against becoming the next victim is to file your taxes at the state and federal level as quickly as possible. Remember, it doesn’t matter whether or not the IRS owes you money: Thieves can still try to impersonate you and claim that they do, leaving you to sort out the mess with the IRS later.
  • Get on a schedule to request a free copy of your credit report. By law, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their report from each of the major bureaus once a year. Put it on your calendar to request a copy of your file every three to four months, each time from a different credit bureau. Dispute any unauthorized or suspicious activity. This is where credit monitoring services are useful: Part of their service is to help you sort this out with the credit bureaus, so if you’re signed up for credit monitoring make them do the hard work for you.
  • File form 14039 and request an IP PIN from the government. This form requires consumers to state they believe they’re likely to be victims of identity fraud. Even if thieves haven’t tried to file your taxes for you yet, virtually all Americans have been touched by incidents that could lead to ID theft — even if we just look at breaches announced in the past year alone.
  • Consider placing a “security freeze” on one’s credit files with the major credit bureaus. A security freeze — also known as a “credit freeze,” may be more effective than credit monitoring in blocking ID thieves from assuming your identity to open up new lines of credit. While it’s true that having a security freeze on your credit file won’t stop thieves from committing tax refund fraud in your name, it would stop them from fraudulently obtaining your IP PIN.
  • Monitor, then freeze. Take advantage of any free credit monitoring available to you, and then freeze your credit file with the four major bureaus.

References for more information:

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/03/govt-cybersecurity-contractor-hit-in-w-2-phishing-scam/

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/02/irs-scam-blends-ceo-fraud-w-2-phishing/

https://www.cybersecurityintelligence.com/blog/stolen-health-records-flooding-dark-web-markets-2117.html

Consumer Advice

What to do if You Receive a Notice from the IRS!

 

Irs-seal

You go to the mail box and find that you have a letter from the IRS. Usually, the notice covers a very specific issue about your tax return. Sometimes it is serious — but most of the time it’s no big deal.

But just in case one does show up, here are some of the things you should know.

  1. Don’t panic. It may just be a simple explanation.
  2. Each letter is very specific as to what you need to do to answer the inquiry.
  3. If the notice is about a “correction” on your tax return, compare it with the numbers on your return.
  4. If you agree, nothing further needs to be done. It was just a notice that the IRS changed something.
  5. If you do not agree, it is important that you respond to the request within the time period outlined in the IRS letter.
  6. If you do not agree, respond in writing why you disagree. Tear off the bottom portion of the letter and return it, along with any relevant documents or information.
  7. Keep copies of everything you sent to them.
  8. Mail to the address the IRS provides in the letter.
  9. Allow 30-45 days for a reply.
  10. Most issues should be handled in writing. However, if you have a question, use the phone number provided in the upper right hand corner of the letter.

If you’d like to know from year to year what the recent tax changes will be, visit IRS.gov, click on the “News Tool Bar” and then select “e-news Subscriptions.”