Identity Theft Feed

Phishing. Phone scams. Identity theft. Unscrupulous tax preparers. Sound familiar? It should. Those illegal actions once again top the Internal Revenue Service's annual Dirty Dozen list of tax scams. Today's tax con artists are the modern day equivalent of yesteryear's snake oil salesmen, hustlers who convinced folks to buy products that could not possibly work as advertised. In all cases, past and present, the victims end up losing their money. ("The Snake Oil Salesman" by Morgan Weistling is available for purchase at Artifacts Gallery. The link to the artwork is not a paid endorsement.) As I noted back on Groundhog's... Read more →


It's Groundhog Day and for many folks that brings to mind the Bill Murray movie of the same name more than the Pennsylvania rodent who purportedly can forecast weather. Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." (Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures) In case you haven't seen it, in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie Murray is a television weatherman who, after being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2 to cover groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's emergence from his burrow, finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. Murray's character Phil (we see what you... Read more →


Remember that tax scam last spring where crooks posing as company executives sent emails asking for workers' payroll data? It was the one that fooled lots of folks, including a Milwaukee Bucks employee who thought that the message really did come from the NBA franchise's president. That chagrined Bucks' staffer sent the phishing crook 2015 tax year data on the team's employees, including his rank-and-file colleagues and highly-paid professional basketball players. Well, that tax scam is back. Email spoofs company CEO: The Internal Revenue Service says the email scam is now making its way across the nation for a second... Read more →


Most taxpayers who file federal returns also must do the same for their state taxes. And most those state filings tend to conform to federal laws. That means that, among other things, state deadlines usually are the same as the ones set by the Internal Revenue Service. This year, it also means that state tax refunds, like their federal counterparts, are likely to be later than usual. Feb. 15 delay for certain refunds: Millions of taxpayers who claim the federal Earned Income or additional child tax credits already are dealing with delayed refund checks from Uncle Sam. The IRS is... Read more →


Do you have to file a return? Don't shoot the messenger, but the answer usually is yes. If you are a U.S. citizen or resident who made money last year, whether you must tell the Internal Revenue Service about it depends on three things: Your gross income, Your filing status, and Your age. The IRS created the table below to give you an idea of whether you should start getting your filing material together. A quick filing note for some older New Year's Day babies. The IRS says that if you were born on Jan. 1, 1952, you are considered... Read more →


Tax filing season 2017 opens today! Yes, that is cheering you're hearing. It's from folks who file their taxes early, usually because they are getting refunds. They also are fortunate that they have all the materials they need to fill out their returns. The key document for most taxpayers is their W-2 form. Employers aren't required to get these out until the end of the month, but some companies are quite efficient. And some taxpayers this year are going to discover something new on their W-2s. Verification code addition: Around 50 million of these officially named Wage and Income Statements... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers prepare their own returns using tax software. Even the Internal Revenue Service encourages this do-it-yourself approach with Free File. So it's no surprise that many tax professionals are looking at ways to retain and add to their client base. Unfortunately, crooks know this, too, and are taking advantage with a new phishing scam in which they target accounting and tax preparation firms and pose as potential clients. Instead of looking for help in completing their returns, the cybercrooks are trying to gather sensitive information from tax professionals that the criminals then will use to file fraudulent tax... Read more →


Tax season is here. You know what that means. Tax scams are here in full force. Even before the official 2017 filing season started, the Internal Revenue Service warned tax professionals to be on the lookout (sorry, I know that the BOLO phrase is a touchy one when it comes to the IRS) for yet another tax scam. This one, according to the IRS and its Security Summit partners, is a new e-mail phishing scheme aimed at tax pros that has the subject line "Mails on Hold!" It comes just two months after the crooks tried to get tax preparer... Read more →


There weren't any major tax bills in 2016. That's going to change in some form in 2017 now that the Republicans control Congress and the White House. via GIPHY But there still were plenty of tax-related matters that got attention last year. Below is my list of top 10 tax stories of 2016, starting with the one I saw as most important. And as a bonus, I also pulled out my slightly cracked crystal ball -- really, who saw the presidential election turning out like it did? -- to forecast five tax issues that we're likely to see in 2017.... Read more →


Hello, 2017. For some of us, you sure took your sweet time. Others think you arrived a tad too soon. Few of us, however, are as ready to get our taxes as done-diddly-done as is Ned Flanders, Homer Simpson's annoying cheery neighbor. If you click the image, you'll see a GIF that gives you a good idea of Ned Flanders' obsessive-compulsive tendencies. While even a dedicated tax geek like myself thinks Neddie is a bit too filing gung-ho for the first day of the New Year, we all should take advantage of January's 31 days to get our 2016 taxes... Read more →


Most of us can use some extra cash. That's particularly true during the holiday shopping season. But unfortunately, recent emails I got from two federal financial officials offering unexpected windfalls are fake. Worse, the messages from Jacob Lew and Janet Yellen are identity theft phishing scams. ID theft impersonation scams: I know most of the ol' blog's loyal readers recognize this duo as, respectively, the U.S. Treasury Secretary and the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, popularly known as the Fed. As flattered as I might be to learn that Lew and Yellen follow my... Read more →


Most of us are knee-deep (or deeper!) into holiday tasks, but the Internal Revenue Service thinks it's also a great time to think about security measures that can protect our tax data during the upcoming tax filing season. That's right, smack in the middle of seasonal shopping and parties, it's National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS and its Security Summit partners from the tax software and preparation industry, the tax professionals' community and the state tax world are offering tips this week on scams to be guard against, as well as ways to prevent crooks from stealing our IDs... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service is continuing its Future State efforts to get more of us digitally involved with our taxes. The latest move is a new an online way to check on our tax balances. Essentially, each of us has a taxpayer account with the IRS based on our filings. The online access option introduced last week lets us view our tax account balances, including what we owe in tax and any added penalties and interest. The IRS is hoping that when we digitally discover that we owe Uncle Sam some money, we'll then take advantage of the agency's various... Read more →


Attention users of Internal Revenue Service online options. Some of you soon will be getting letters from the IRS about proving who you are. This is not a scam. The coming IRS letters will be real. Some folks will be getting real letters from the IRS asking them to validate the IDs they use to access online tax services. The mailing is not a scam, but it's always good to be careful when you get any request for personal data. New ID validation effort: The IRS notified tax professionals this week via email that during the next five weeks, the... Read more →


Taxpayers will be "trusted customers" when they file their tax returns next year. That's how the Internal Revenue Service and its state tax and private sector Security Summit partners are approaching the 2017 filing season. The group, which discussed upcoming security measures at a press conference Nov. 3, says the filing process next year will focus on and expanded features that will help ensure the authenticity of the taxpayer and the tax return. Paris officials last summer removed the love locks from Pont des Arts for safety reasons, but the IRS and its Security Summit partners are adding heavy duty... Read more →


They're back. OK, they never really left. They are tax scammers. And they are once again targeting tax professionals. Specifically, says the Internal Revenue Service, tax con artists have their sights on tax pros who use the agency's e-services. Phishing for tax pro data: The crooks are sending these tax pros an email asking them to update their accounts and directing them to a fake website. The subject line for the fraudulent email is "Security Awareness for Tax Professionals," purportedly coming from "Your e-Services Team." The scam email tells recipients that information was stolen from certain user accounts in 2015... Read more →


Computer users, which nowadays means almost everyone, used to be told to follow the X-file's advice when it came to cyber security: Trust No One. IRS is moving to two-step authentication for more of its online services beginning in late October. That's still true, but unfortunately, it's not enough. Crooks cracking everyone's computer codes: Nowadays, as First Lady Michelle Obama, Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton and millions of Yahoo email account owners know, in today's increasingly hackable electronic world, the operable phrase for online life is No One is Safe. And Uncle Sam's tax collector is not immune from... Read more →


One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Someone just became an identity theft victim. The stealing of an individual's personal data happens every two seconds. That alarming criminal frequency was part of an Internal Revenue Service presentation on ID theft and tax refund fraud during the agency's Nationwide Tax Forum this week in National Harbor, Maryland, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. The good news, from a tax standpoint, is that that most of those 30* ID thefts per minute are by crooks seeking credit card information. In fact, credit card related identity theft has been the #1 complaint on the Federal... Read more →


While you and I have been enjoying our summer break, tax criminals have stayed on their nefarious jobs. In some cases, they are coming up with new identity theft schemes to steal our personal information and file for fraudulent tax refunds. In others, they are ramping up criminal efforts that are oldies but, from the crooks' perspectives, goodies. Fake IRS calls still coming: In fact, noted the Internal Revenue Service earlier this month, there's been increase this summer of impersonation scams where people get automated calls purported to be from the IRS. It's the largest tax scam ever and it... Read more →


Cyber criminals are getting added attention this week in the wake of Democratic National Committee emails that hackers stole and then leaked to the world. But the Internal Revenue Service has been concerned about hackers for a while. It formalized its cyber security worries last year with the creation of its Security Summit, a coalition of federal and states tax officials, as well as the tax industry. One of the Security Summit's goals is to alert and tax professionals about tax identity theft threats and encourage their involvement in fighting the electronic epidemic. The most recent IRS warning was to... Read more →