Identity Theft Feed

Every computer user is familiar with the constant updates to software. So are identity thieves. And now these crooks are targeting tax professionals in a new phishing scam designed to steal usernames and passwords. The Internal Revenue Service and its state and tax industry Security Summit partners say that this latest impersonation scheme variant is a sophisticated scam designed to get information that can be used to file false tax returns and collect fraudulent tax refunds. It's the latest in a series of scams this summer that have targeted professional tax preparers. Software upgrade hook: This is the time of... Read more →


Alfred Hitchcock nailed it in his 1955 cat burglar-turned-romance starring Grace Kelly and Gary Grant. The pair teamed up, with Grant's character using his expertise as a former jewel thief, to catch a new criminal in the wealthy playground of Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Click film screenshot to watch the movie trailer on YouTube.) The Internal Revenue Service apparently is taking a hint from a Hollywood classic. It's thinking like identity thieves to catch identity thieves. That was among the messages from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in July 25 media teleconference. Cybercriminals are showing increasing savvy and tax expertise, particularly in... Read more →


Feeling left out because tax scammers have been focusing lately on tax preparers? Don't. Crooks likely will be calling or sending you an email soon enough. The Internal Revenue Service says that everyone, individual taxpayers and tax pros alike, are potential victims of identity theft schemes as we head into what used to be a slower time for taxes. "We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in an alert issued today, June 26. "Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious tax bills and demands... Read more →


Based on the fast and furious pace of tax scams this month, you'd think it was high tax season instead of summer. For the second time in just more than a week, the Internal Revenue Service has issued a new tax scam alert. (In case you missed it, the pervasive tax telephone scam was recently tweaked.) This latest scam warning is for tax professionals, who are receiving phishing emails purportedly from a tax software education provider. The fake communication asks for the tax preparers' help in repairing a failure in the message sender's sham database. To that fake end, the... Read more →


Identity thieves are once again targeting taxpayers, this time with a twist on the pervasive telephone tax scam. In its original version, which the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies have dubbed the biggest tax scam ever, crooks pretend to be IRS employees and demand immediate payment by prepaid debit card or wire transfer of a purported tax owed by the victims. 3 tweaks to telephone scam: The ID thieves are still impersonating IRS agent and they still want our money ASAP via a debit card. But this time they've refined their fake story in three ways regarding the... Read more →


Lots of taxpayers today, June 15, are making their second estimated tax payment electronically. That makes the Internal Revenue Service very happy, as it works to get the majority of taxpayers dealing with tax matters online. Ultimately, the IRS is looking to fully implement its Future State with its mostly electronic tax transactions. To that increasingly electronic end, the IRS this week announced expansions to its online taxpayer account tool. This e-option debuted last December and lets taxpayers have online access to their IRS accounts. Expanded account options: Initially, the Taxpayer Online Account online tool let those who registered for... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and Department of Education have a graduation gift for some students. The tax agency's income data retrieval tool that makes it easier to apply for federal financial college aid is once again operational for some applicants. This cool balloon was part of my neighbors' celebration of their son's graduation. Some Texas gusts, however, helped it take a post-graduation trip to our driveway. After snapping this photo (and Instagram video), I helped the light-headed fellow home. Since 2012, the IRS has made getting income information easier for students and their parents who are seeking financial help by... Read more →


Most of us suspected it would happen. We just didn't think it would happen so soon. "It" is apparent disregard by some private debt collectors of the rules established in connection with the collection agencies' latest congressionally mandated foray into federal tax collection. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George tells a House Appropriations subcommittee last week of his watchdog agency's concerns about the latest use of private collection agencies to bring in delinquent federal taxes. (Click image to watch full hearing on YouTube.) Private collection agencies are approving installment agreements with delinquent taxpayers beyond what the law... Read more →


Last week's cyberattack has affected more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries. The ransomware program known as WannaCry encrypts information on computers and demands targeted users pay $300 in order to regain access to their machines. The good news here in the U.S. is that so far, no federal systems have been affected by the global ransomware attack, according to Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who appeared at today's regular White House press briefing. The bad news is that a few companies have been hit and the government is still unaware of who was behind the attack. And as this... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's third attempt to bring in overdue tax money by using private debt collectors has been in place for less than a month, but some House members are already trying to halt it. Opponents of the program question not only the collection system's costs and efficiency. They also worry that the use of private bill collectors will make it easier for crooks to create even more tax scams. Rep. John Lewis makes his opening statement at last week's Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing on the 2017 tax season. During his remarks, Lewis announced the introduction of... Read more →


Is that really the Internal Revenue Service knock, knock, knocking on your door? That's a concern shared not just by individuals who find people claiming to be with the federal tax collector's office, but also the IRS itself. "Many taxpayers have encountered individuals impersonating IRS officials – in person, over the telephone and via email," noted the IRS in a statement issued this week. In-person tax scams: While email phishing attempts and the still pervasive fake IRS agent telephone tax scam are still going strong — and could even see a surge as the cons are tweaked to incorporate the... Read more →


Indian police on Saturday, April 8, arrested the man they believe is the mastermind behind what has been called the most pervasive U.S. tax scam ever. But although he's in custody, his alleged criminal legacy continues. On Monday, April 10, the Internal Revenue Service issued yet another warning about phone scams and email phishing schemes. International arrest: Sagar "Shaggy" Thakkar was arrested at the Mumbai airport as he re-entered India this past weekend, according to various international reports. Indian law enforcement say Thakkar, who allegedly started scam call facilities in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, had fled the country and traveled to... Read more →


It was supposed to be the annual Capitol Hill review of how the current tax filing season is going. It was supposed to be a time for the Internal Revenue Service to shine since, as the IRS commissioner said during a public speech yesterday, it's been the smoothest filing season since he took the top job in December 2013. It wasn't. During a Senate Finance hearing today, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen revealed more details of security breach connected to federal student aid applications that require inclusion of tax data. Student loan tax data security concerns: While 2017 filing season specifics... Read more →


Tax filing must keep evolving. That's the word from Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, who today made his fourth and final appearance as head of the U.S. tax agency before the National Press Club. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen holds a paper Form 1040 during his speech to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Each event attendee got a souvenir form, complete with a personal "thanks for filing" note penned by the commish. That means, Koskinen told the assembled group of media in Washington, D.C., more digital solutions to taxes. And if tax reform can help achieve that, then... Read more →


Have you made it through April Fools' Day without getting pranked? Good for you. Now be sure you don’t fall for a costly tax scam as the 2017 filing season winds down. Tax criminals are looking to steal identities and then use them to file for fraudulent tax refunds from not just taxpayers, but also the tax preparers who help us file. On Friday, March 31, the Internal Revenue Service, state tax departments and the tax industry — collectively known as the Security Summit, which was formed back in March 2015 to fight growing tax crimes — warned tax professionals... Read more →


The United States and Canada share more than the world's longest undefended border. They also share attacks by cyber criminals on their online tax systems. A sign at the point where the railroad crosses the U.S.-Canada border at Peace Arch Park. This is the westernmost point on the continuous main section of the border. (Photo by Vmenkov via Wikimedia) Canada Revenue Agency’s website was down from the afternoon of Friday, March 10, until 5 p.m. Sunday, March 12, after tax officials discovered the site had a security vulnerability. South of the 49th parallel on Thursday, March 9, the Internal Revenue... Read more →


Have you filed your tax return yet? Neither have I. Neither have millions of Americans. The weekly filing data the Internal Revenue Service delivers during high tax filing season shows that almost all the numbers are behind where filing was at this point last year. Started slow, stayed that way: When filing season kicked off back in late January, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said his agency was expecting 153 million individual tax returns to be filed in 2017. Most of those show up from January through the April deadline, which is on the 18th this year. There's usually a big... Read more →


Remember that assurance from the Internal Revenue Service that its agents never call you about an overdue tax bill. That's changing. A call from a bill collector can seem as terrifying as the one Drew Barrymore received in "Scream." Even worse? A collection agency call about an overdue IRS bill. The IRS is about to turn over some delinquent tax accounts to private debt collectors. Again. And those companies' employees, as subcontracting agents of the IRS, will be calling folks about the money they owe the U.S. Treasury. Bill collecting concerns, scams: If you think this opens the door --... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI) division is charged with putting tax and other financial crooks behind bars. That job has gotten tougher, according the man who heads the CI, primarily because of the loss of experienced agents. "We're at the same staffing level as 1956, which is just unbelievable when you think about it," CI Chief Richard Weber said during a press this week in conjunction with the release of the division's 2016 annual report. "There's still no realistic expectation of increasing that number anytime soon. It's very difficult to be able to do everything we are mandated... Read more →


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 →