Tax, Data & Identity Theft

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Here are a number of Tips and Warnings About Keeping Your Data Secure

and Avoiding Falling for Scams to Steal Your Money

Emails and Text Messaging are Not Secure Means of Communications

After a period of time some of the links herein may expire as old content is removed from the web.

Items at the top of this list is the most recent.


3-13-18  Tax Time Guide: Guard personal, financial, tax information thoroughly

Issue Number:    IR-2018-51

The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to remain vigilant in protecting their personal and tax information. Scams and schemes using the IRS as a lure can take on many variations, so practicing personal information security is vital.

The IRS also reminds taxpayers to help protect themselves against identity theft by reviewing safety tips offered by the Security Summit, a collaborative effort between the IRS, states and the private-sector tax community.

This is the fourth in a series of nine IRS news releases called the Tax Time Guide, designed to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues. This year’s tax-filing deadline is April 17.

Protect Personal Information

Treat personal information like cash – don’t hand it out to just anyone. Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, bank and even utility account numbers can be used to help steal a person’s money or open new accounts. Every time a taxpayer receives a request for personal information, they should think about whether the request is truly necessary. Scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy and legitimate.

Avoid Phishing Scams

The easiest way for criminals to steal sensitive data is simply to ask for it. Learn to recognize phishing emails, calls or texts that pose as familiar organizations such as banks, credit card companies or even the IRS. These ruses generally urge taxpayers to give up sensitive data such as passwords, Social Security numbers and bank account or credit card numbers. They are called phishing scams because they attempt to lure the receiver into taking the bait.

Also, don’t assume internet advertisements, pop-up ads or emails are from reputable companies. If an ad or offer looks too good to be true, take a moment to check out the company behind it. Type the company or product name into a search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”

The IRS urges people to never download “security” software from a pop-up ad. A pervasive ploy is a pop-up ad that indicates it has detected a virus on the computer. Don’t fall for it. The download most likely will install some type of malware on the victim’s computer. Reputable security software companies do not advertise in this manner.

Safeguard Personal Data in Daily, Online Activity

Taxpayers should safeguard their Social Security number. Provide it only when necessary. Occasionally businesses will request it when it is not essential.

Provide personal information over encrypted websites only. Shopping or banking online should be done only on sites that use encryption. People should look for “https” at the beginning of a web address (the “s” stands for secure) and be sure “https” is on every page of the site.

Use Strong Passwords

The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Use at least 10 characters; 12 is ideal for most home users. Mix letters, numbers and special characters. Try to be unpredictable – don’t use names, birthdates or common words. Don’t use the same password for many accounts and don’t share them on the phone, in texts or by email. Legitimate companies will not send messages asking for passwords. Receiving such a message probably means it’s a scam. Keep passwords in a secure place.

Set password and encryption protections for wireless networks. If a home or business Wi-Fi is unsecured, it allows any computer within range to access the wireless network and potentially steal information from connected devices.   Use Security Software

A good broad-based anti-malware program should provide protection from viruses, Trojans, spyware and adware. The IRS urges people, especially tax professionals, to use an anti-malware program and always keep it up to date.

Set security software to update automatically so it can be upgraded as threats emerge. Also, make sure the security software is “on” at all times. Invest in encryption software to prevent unauthorized access by hackers or identity thieves. Educate children about the threats of opening suspicious web pages, emails or documents.

Back Up Files

No system is completely secure. Copy important files, including federal and state tax returns, onto a removable disc or a back-up drive, and store it in a safe place. Save tax returns and records. Federal and state tax returns are important financial documents. People need them from time to time for home mortgages or college financial aid applications. These steps also can help taxpayers more easily prepare next year’s tax return. If storing sensitive tax and financial records on a personal computer, use a file encryption program to add an additional layer of security.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry recently launched a public awareness campaign called Taxes. Security. Together. It provides additional safety tips for taxpayers. Also, see Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.



3-13-18  Don’t Fall for Scam Calls and Emails Posing as IRS

Issue Number:    Tax Tip 2018-38

Scammers and cyberthieves continue to use the IRS as bait. The most common tax scams are phone calls and emails from thieves who pretend to be from the IRS. Scammers use the IRS name, logo, fake employee names and badge numbers to try to steal money and identities from taxpayers.

Taxpayers need to be wary of phone calls or automated messages from someone who claims to be from the IRS. Often, these criminals will say taxpayers owe money and demand payment right away. Other times, scammers will lie to taxpayers and say they’re due a refund. The thieves ask for bank account information over the phone. The IRS warns taxpayers not to fall for these scams.

Below are several tips that will help filers avoid becoming a scam victim.

IRS employees will not:

If taxpayers don’t owe or don’t think they owe any tax, and they receive an inquiry like this, they should:

In most cases, an IRS phishing scam is an unsolicited, fake email that claims to come from the IRS. Some emails link to sham websites that look real. The scammers’ goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If the thieves get what they’re after, they use it to steal a victim’s money and identity.

For those taxpayers who get a phishing email, the IRS offers this advice:

More information:
Report Phishing

For more see


3-13-18  IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of tax scams for 2018 contains warning to avoid improper claims for business credits

IRS YouTube Videos:

Dirty Dozen English | Spanish | ASL

The Internal Revenue Service today warned that taxpayers should avoid making improper claims for business credits, a common scam used by unscrupulous tax preparers.

Two common credits targeted for abuse by shady return preparers include the research credit and the fuel tax credit. Both credits have legitimate uses, but there are specific criteria that taxpayers need to qualify for these.

As part of the 2018 “Dirty Dozen” tax scams, the IRS reminds taxpayers to watch out for these red flags involving business credits when dealing with return preparers. Remember, the taxpayer is responsible for the information on the tax return long after the scammer is gone.

Each year, the IRS publishes its “Dirty Dozen” list of a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter any time. These can especially peak during the tax filing season as people prepare their returns or hire people to help with their taxes.

For more, see the video links above.



2-13-18  Scam Alert: IRS Urges Taxpayers to Watch Out for Erroneous Refunds; Beware of Fake Calls to Return Money to a Collection Agency

The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers of a quickly growing scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into their bank accounts. The IRS also offered a step-by-step explanation for how to return the funds and avoid being scammed.

Following up on a Security Summit alert issued Feb. 2, the IRS issued this additional warning about the new scheme after discovering more tax practitioners’ computer files have been breached. In addition, the number of potential taxpayer victims jumped from a few hundred to several thousand in just days. The IRS Criminal Investigation division continues its investigation into the scope and breadth of this scheme.

These criminals have a new twist on an old scam. After stealing client data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent tax returns, these criminals use the taxpayers' real bank accounts for the deposit.

Thieves are then using various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers, and their versions of the scam may continue to evolve.

For more see  Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft




After a period of time some of the links herein may expire as old content is removed from the web.

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