Identity Theft Feed

Photo by Mediamodifier on Unsplash Guess who's not taking a long July 4th holiday? Tax scammers. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today warned of a new scam mailing in which crooks tell the correspondence recipients that they are owed a tax refund. The fake tax mailing comes in a cardboard envelope from a delivery service. As is often the case with tax scams, the letter includes contact information and a phone number that do not belong to the IRS. The mailing tells recipients that in order to get their refund, they must provide personal information, such... Read more →


Getting a notice from the Internal Revenue Service is rarely welcome. But such correspondence could be a tax and financial lifesaver when it's about possible tax identity theft. Over the years, the IRS has made progress in reducing tax ID theft, largely because the tax agency scans every tax return for signs of fraud. If the automated system finds a suspicious tax return, the IRS reviews the filing and sends a letter to the taxpayer letting them know about the potential ID theft. The IRS won't process the suspicious tax return until it gets a response from the taxpayer. Here... Read more →


Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash Among the many lessons we've learned, or not, from the COVID-19 pandemic is that we'll likely never be rid of it. And as the transition to endemic status progresses, we'll continue to deal with flare-ups like, irony alert, the one that erupted following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's recent first in-person Epidemic Intelligence Service conference in four years. The same persistence seems to apply to taxes, too. As the severity of COVID-19 became clearer, most of the United States went into lockdown to help slow its spread. While that saved lives,... Read more →


Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko A Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report on the early results of the 2023 filing season shows that the agency is still taking identity theft seriously. This filing season, which wrapped up (save for extensions) on April 18, was the first since the pandemic began where individual tax return processing and related activities returned for the most part to normal timelines, noted TIGTA. As of March 3, the IRS had received 54.9 million tax returns, or almost a third of the 167 million filings it expects to get this year. Of that nearly 55... Read more →


Scammers tend to use tried and true techniques to con people out of their identities and money. One of the most popular schemes involves crooks pretending to be real-life officials. And the Internal Revenue Service is near the top of government agencies that con artists impersonate. CloudFlare, a company which provides security for many companies' online operations, says that the IRS ranks sixth in the 50 top brands when it comes to phishing attempts that use fake sites. The example given by CloudFlare included "IRS" along with the words "contact" and "payment." A big tip-off that the URL is fake... Read more →


via GIPHY The good news on the scam front is that fewer people reported getting suckered by con artists last year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says there were 2.4 million scam reports in 2022, compared to 2.9 million such reports in 2021. The bad news is that con artists stole more money. The FTC's newest data book issued today (Feb. 23) reports $8.8 billion lost to scams in 2022. That's 2.6 billion more reports than the previous year. One reason for the dramatic increase in the amount of scammed dollars is the growth of investment scams. These schemes were... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich One of the reasons to file early is to beat tax identity thieves to the punch. Even though the Internal Revenue Service has slowed such tax crimes a bit in recent years, they're still out there. In fact, I've been getting a lot of scam span in recent weeks, both texts and email, like the one below I got this morning. While this poorly faked attempt — a Gmail address for the U.S. Agency for International Development's grant office; really? — isn't a specific tax hack attempt, some of the information the crooks want from me... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell The Internal Revenue Service won't start processing 2022 tax year returns until Jan. 23, but you can file before then. A lot of folks are doing just that. The most common and obvious motive for filing early is to get the refund you're expecting. But there are some other reasons you might want to get your return to the IRS as soon as possible. 1. To beat tax ID thieves to the punch. The IRS and its Security Summit partners have made good progress in recent years in reducing tax identity theft and refund fraud. One... Read more →


Technology is great, except when it isn't. And technology can be potentially dangerous, especially when taxes are involved. We all know that our tax data is a prime target for crooks. They can use the information on our 1040s to file fake returns and too often, despite improved Internal Revenue Service security measures, collect fraudulent refunds. They also can use the info on our tax paperwork — earnings, investments, Social Security numbers for us and our family members — to steal our identities and ruin us financially. And now we've learned that major tax software and e-filing companies have been... Read more →


Holiday season is here. So are the accompanying scams. True, con artists operate year-round. But they really ramp up their schemes during this time of giving. Some try to trick people who are stretched a bit too thin into thinking there's free money out there … as long as they supply some personal and financial information. Other scammers use the hook of holiday giving, especially for those who are less fortunate. Just send along your help to the fake emailer, they say, or even easier, just click on the link. 'Tis the phishing season: And some go for a combo... Read more →


This National Hurricane Center graphic shows how the strength and extent of Hurricane Ian's winds changed over its development. The orange segments are tropical storm force. The red swaths are hurricane force. For those of us who've visited Florida's Gulf Coast, the images of how Hurricane Ian destroyed a huge swath of it are gutting. My heart is breaking for Sanibel Island. I cannot image how the people who live there are feeling or coping. Landfall didn't stop this deadly monster. As Ian moved across the Sunshine State, it left in its wake similar, albeit less severe, damages. Now South... Read more →


We depend on our smartphones more than ever. They've made texting, especially among younger device owners, the preferred way to communicate. Crooks know this, too. Including tax identity thieves. The Internal Revenue Service says it's seen a recent rash of tax-related texting scams. These latest schemes, known as smishing because they use SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia messaging service), look like they are coming from the IRS. Don't fall for these fake IRS texts, which the tax agency says have increased exponentially this year. Exponential fake tax texts: So far in 2022, the IRS has identified and reported... Read more →


You've had that student loan for what seems like forever. So naturally, you're eager to take advantage of the debt forgiveness offered by the Biden Administration. But don't act too quickly or you could be a scam victim. Soon after President Joe Biden announced his plan that will erase in some cases up to $20,000 in undergraduate student loans, consumer advocates had some suggestions of their own. Beware of perps on the prowl with promises that they can get rid of your student loan obligation more quickly. Or get you even more loan relief if the federal plan doesn't cover... Read more →


UPDATE, Jan. 11, 2023: Computer incidents made today a bad day to fly in the United States and Canada, or try to send international mail in the United Kingdom. But those crashes make it a good day to double check your personal and business cyber security plans. The IRS has some tips and guidance for tax professionals' data reliability and protection. The Internal Revenue Service relies on taxpayers and tax professionals to help ensure that our national tax system is secure. These efforts are particularly critical as the federal tax agency goes more electronic. It's also a legal requirement for... Read more →


One of the most common tax scam practices is to take a bit of truth and twist it. Con artists tweak tax forms, create fraudulent online presences that mimic real tax sites, and impersonate tax officials. The latest report of criminals honing their nefarious tax techniques involves the IRS' Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities (TEGE) division and tax-exempt bonds. As part of the way the IRS audits tax-exempt bonds, the agency's TEGE unit uses its own secure electronic messaging service to transmit and receive data. That communication system now is being used as a hook in a new phishing scheme.... Read more →


All graphics courtesy IRS Tax Pros Twitter account Benjamin Franklin wasn't quite correct. There are three constants in life: death, taxes, and tax scams. For more than two decades, the Internal Revenue Service has annually highlighted the 12 worst recent scams. This year's Dirty Dozen includes questionable tax arrangement touted by con artists, pandemic-related schemes to steal people's identities and refund money, dubious tax payment options, and unscrupulous tax preparers. For the last few years, the IRS has shifted from a single list of a dozen tax scams to multiple alerts with more details on the various scams. Those new... Read more →


Photo by Pixabay Today the hubby got a disconcerting mailing from one of his investment accounts. It had paperwork for survivor claims. The last we checked (a few hours ago), he is very much alive. And since neither he nor I asked for this information, we immediately thought someone might have stolen his identity and tried to cash out this account. That doesn't seem to be the case (whew!). Our initial checks into the account, both ourselves online and by calling the investment company, indicate there's no security issue. But it's a good reminder to stay on top of your... Read more →


Unemployment benefits can help relieve some of the sting of losing your job. But there are downsides. The monthly amounts again are fully taxable. And during the COVID pandemic, criminals have had a field day getting fraudulent payments, and causing tax troubles for those individuals whose identities they stole. The COVID-19 pandemic and employment still are inextricably linked. When the coronavirus hit the United States in 2020, the concern was for the companies that had to shut down, and their employees who suddenly were without paychecks. Congress passed a series of COVID relief bills that provided relief options for companies... Read more →


House Oversight Committee members also investigating ID.me contracts, verification methods Photo by cottonbro In early February, the Internal Revenue Service announced plans to transition from ID.me's facial scanning identity verification system. The third-party service's scanning technology raised privacy concerns. A few weeks later, the IRS elaborated on its taxpayer identity process. It said the facial recognition would remain, but as an option, not a requirement. Taxpayers instead could participate in a live, virtual interview to prove they are legitimately opening their own online taxpayer account. The IRS also indicated that it eventually would join other federal agencies in using Login.Gov,... Read more →


One of the big selling points of taking your taxes electronic is that the Internal Revenue Service's turnaround is quicker. The tax agency has long touted that when taxpayers e-file and have their refunds direct deposited, the tax cash usually shows up within 21 days. Usually. The only thing certain about taxes is that they'll find a way to frustrate you. That's the case when e-filed refunds take longer. Here are six reasons, from the IRS and tax community, as to why your refund may be delayed. 1. Math errors: Yes, taxes are complicated. That's why most of us use... Read more →