Tax Fraud Advisory Alert!
February 13, 2015
The 2015 tax filing season is upon us and so taxpayers must be on high alert for fraudulent efforts. The efforts include phishing efforts by email and phone. Some victims of tax fraud learn after they file and discover someone else filed in their name.
Recommended actions include:
- File tax returns early to thwart identity thieves.
- Do not open email attachments or click on links from unknown or questionable sources.
- Do not provide social security numbers and financial account information to anyone unless required.
- If you think you are a victim of identity fraud, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, 1- 800-908-4490 and the states where you file taxes to ensure steps are taken to secure your information.
- Call the IRS and states directly at 800-829-1040 to confirm legitimate communications from them.
- Report suspicious activity to firstname.lastname@example.org or file a report with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Payer Administration (TIGTA), the Federal Trade Commission, and the police. (http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/press/press_tigta-2014-03.htm)
Details of the advisory report from REN-ISAC:
Phishing: Scam artists pose as legitimate entities—such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), other government agencies, and financial institutions—in an attempt to defraud taxpayers. They use phishing emails to lure users to open malicious email attachments or visit malicious sites to gain access to passwords and sensitive information.
Phone Fraud: The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received reports of roughly 290,000 contacts and has become aware of nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million as a result of a phone scam, in which scammers make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards.
Fraudulent filings: There is a reported increase in attempts by scammers who attempt to use victims’ personal information to file fraudulent tax returns, then claim resulting refunds. Taxpayer victims generally have no idea that anything is wrong until they attempt to submit their own returns. In many cases, it is extremely difficult to determine how the perpetrators were able to get the victims’ filing information.