With the familiar scent of the rapidly approaching tax season in the air, the issue of security and tax fraud linger from years past.
Earlier this year, the IRS confirmed an upsetting $39 million breach where hackers made 200,000 attempts to retrieve taxpayer data. Roughly 100,000 of those attempts were successful.
Based on the August 2014 Identity Theft Report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the IRS paid out eighteen percent, or $5.2 billion, in refund fraud. Although areas remain where the IRS continue to fall short such as authorization controls, this year the GAO reported that the IRS showed to be making improvements.
Tax software providers are following suit by reinforcing security precautions for all users. These include password requirements, security questions and lockout functions. At the 2015 Security Summit, IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen distinguished twenty new factors to consider when assessing fraud. “Thanks to the cooperative efforts taking place between the industry, the states and the IRS, we will have new tools in place this January to protect taxpayers during the 2016 filing season.”, says Koskinen.
This, along with the efforts of all taxpayers, will help thwart identity thieves. Here are some ways the IRS urges you protect yourself:
- Use reliable computer security software with firewalls and virus protection
- Create secure computer passwords
- Avoid giving out any personal information over the phone to those claiming to be from the IRS
- Check your credit report every year
- Safeguard your SSN and always verify identities of those you give it to
If you think you have been a target of tax fraud or need more help understanding your taxes, please visit our live chat at our website (www.semaphoretax.com) to get in contact with one of our experienced tax professionals, or call us at 866-736-2444.
This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Semaphore assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.