Identity Theft Feed

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 →


Victims of tax identity theft must use a special tax number when they file since their Social Security number has been appropriated by crooks. This new six-digit tax ID is known as the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, or IP PIN. Others who aren't ID theft victims, but who want to use that number instead of their nine-digit Social Security ID for added security when they file, also can opt in to the program. But that option has been on hold for months because, you got it, concerns about tax identity thieves hacking into Internal Revenue Service systems. Now the... Read more →


The United States of America tomorrow will celebrate 240 years since independence was declared. Here's wishing all my fellow Americans a safe and fun July 4, especially since our break from Britain was based in large part on the battle cry that "Taxation without representation is tyranny." But another important date arrived just a few days earlier. On July 1, the first of the Baby Boomers turned 70½. Judging by this cake's flames, this guy looks to be a bit older than 70½. That half birthday date is crucial because it means owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts like traditional IRAs... Read more →


Taxpayer security, despite some recent issues, actually is improving. That's the word from the Internal Revenue Service and its private sector Security Summit partners Tax crooks tried to claim $1.1 billion in fraudulent refunds on 171,000 returns this latest main tax-filing season, the IRS announced at a press conference this morning. But the agency caught those fake returns filed from January through April before any money was sent to the identity thieves. That's an improvement over the prevention rate the year before, when the IRS stopped $754 million in fraudulent refunds claimed on 141,000 fake returns. The improved identification of... Read more →


Hackers continue to assault the Internal Revenue Service's online options, forcing the agency to shut down yet another website tool. Another automated bot hacking attempt by identity thieves has forced the IRS to stop issuing e-file PINs. On Thursday, June 23, the IRS announced that taxpayers can no longer obtain an electronic filing personal identification number, or e-file PIN, at either IRS.gov or even via phone. And due to growing identity theft and tax refund fraud threats, the shutdown of the e-file ID option might be permanent. Who needs an e-file PIN? Some taxpayers use an e-file PIN to verify... Read more →


Early in my career of writing about taxes my shelves and desk and file cabinets and office floor were covered in tax-related magazines, books, brochures and Internal Revenue Service issued tax booklets and forms. Now it's my email box that's overflowing. The world, including the tax world, has gone more digital. Although, as that photo at left shows, I still have plenty of actual tax and finance books (including -- shameless plug alert -- my "Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and the "Future Millionaires' Guidebook" that some of my Bankrate colleagues and I wrote) in my office. One group, however,... Read more →


Sometimes you just have to feel sorry for the Internal Revenue Service. The federal tax agency finally brings its Get Transcript online service back fully online after more than a year and BAM! It gets smacked. Click image to go to the new, more secure Get Transcript website. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today issued a report charging that that the IRS missed some taxpayers whose information fell into criminal hands in last year's Get Transcript hack. What the crooks were after: The online Get Transcript tool, which now requires a tougher, two-step authentication process in order to... Read more →


Get Transcript is back. The Internal Revenue Service's online tool where taxpayers can download copies of their prior year filing data had been effectively out of service for more than a year after it was hacked in in early 2015. The online service still worked as long as you were willing to request your old filing data online, but wait for the actual information to be mailed to you in paper form. IRS efforts to upgrade the site's security recently progressed to the point where it was allowing some transcript requests to be randomly downloaded. Today, June 7, the IRS... Read more →


It's been more than a year since hackers were able to get into the Internal Revenue Service's online database of taxpayer transcripts. The agency initially thought that cyber crooks got data on around 104,000 filers when they broke into the Get Transcript tool. The hack, which apparently started in February 2015 and was made public three months later, was accomplished by criminals using personal information that they got from sources outside the IRS. By August, the IRS investigation revealed that the hacked tax account tally was closer to 334,000. Your tax life in an alternate form: Tax transcripts aren't just... Read more →


Tax scams that invoke the Internal Revenue Service get a lot of attention. That's understandable. The tax code is complicated and the IRS is a source of fear for most Americans. That combination makes it easy for crooks pretending to be with the federal tax agency to scare us into paying them to resolve a purported tax bill. But there are 43 other official government tax collectors out there, and crooks know that they also can use state taxes to scare us into sending them our money. Multitasking small business owners make good targets for state tax focused con artists.... Read more →


Milwaukee Bucks players' tax information is now in the hands of identity thieves. The Milwaukee Bucks and fans celebrate a win. (Photo by Jeramey Jannene via Flickr Creative Commons) The National Basketball Association team is the latest victim of an email phishing scam in which crooks pose as corporate executives and ask payroll offices for employees' financial and tax information. Phishing for tax form details: Team officials confirmed reports, first in Yahoo Sports and then at other sports and technology websites, that a Bucks' employee complied with an email request from a person impersonating team president Peter Feigin seeking 2015... Read more →


Sure, King George III's pesky tea tax served as a catalyst for the United States' rebellion against Great Britain. King George III in 1755, courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London. Click image to hear G3's first song, which mentions the tea to-do, in the Broadway musical "Hamilton." But once we worked through that independence thing, we Americans discovered that we still have a lot in common with the United Kingdom. And that includes, unfortunately, tax scams. U.K. HMRC tax phishing: Taxpayers across the pond have been getting phishing emails from tax crooks encouraging them to download an attached document in order... Read more →


This time it's personal. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) introduced the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act of 2016 last year after he became a tax identity theft victim. Rep. Jim Renacci, at right, talks with Cleveland WOIO anchors about being a tax identity theft victim. On Monday, May 16, Renacci watched as H.R. 3832, the bill based on his and his wife's bad filing experience, cleared the full House by voice vote. In addition to talking with media in Ohio and elsewhere, Renacci testified in April about his tax ID theft experience before the House Ways and Means Committee, of... Read more →


A little more than a month ago, inquiring tax eyes were focused on Panama. Specifically, folks were curious about a law firm in that Central American nation that allegedly helps the wealthy stash cash in global accounts that are out of reach of their nations' tax collectors. ICIJ has produced a video, The Panama Papers: Victims of Offshore, that shows what the organization says are the unseen victims behind the email chains, invoices and documents that make up the Panama Papers and the shadowy offshore industry. A couple of U.S. states, Nevada and Wyoming, were named as international tax haven... Read more →


Trust no one. That X-Files admonition has been co-opted for just about everything, but it's particularly appropriate in this time of increasing tax identity theft and refund fraud. It also apparently is taken to heart by the federal office that keeps an eye on the Internal Revenue Service's operations. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) says its Office of Investigations (OI) examines not only outside threats to the tax collecting agency, but also internal issues. "Specifically, OI investigates misconduct by IRS employees which manifests itself in many ways," said Timothy Camus, a Deputy Inspector General with TIGTA. Insider... Read more →


Millions of folks are working diligently these last few days before the April 18 (19th in Maine and Massachusetts) tax filing deadline. Unfortunately, that tax-focused group includes criminals. This afternoon the Internal Revenue Service issued a warning to tax professionals of a new scam that's just started showing up in some tax prep offices. In this latest iteration of tax identity theft, cyber-criminals obtain remote control of preparers' computer systems, complete and file client tax returns and redirect refunds to the thieves' accounts. The IRS says that although it knows of only a handful of cases to date, it wanted... Read more →


A group of South Florida rappers allegedly created a music label as a front for a massive tax refund fraud ring. Click image to watch the MoneyKing_GroundUP111 video on YouTube. Maybe the erstwhile rappers should change their musical moniker to Doin' Time since six of them were sentenced to jail last week in connection with the tax fraud scheme. Harlan Decoste of Miramar, Florida, who went by the alias Money King, created the label, according to the federal charges filed against him and his confederates back in August 2015 in the Southern District of Florida. Decoste received the longest prison... Read more →