Taxpayer Identity Theft Changes
Author: Susan Thiessen
Identity theft evolves almost daily. Protecting your most important asset, your identity, is growing more complicated as scammers target numerous angles. Cyber-criminals have new technology, scams and more personal data to impersonate taxpayers. The IRS indicated this is the fastest-growing crime with a 400 percent scam increase this tax season.
Because combating identity theft is a high priority, the IRS adapts to meet its increasing threat level. The Security Summit is a partnership between the IRS, state agencies and tax industry to combat identity theft with new safeguards, making filing season more secure for taxpayers. Due to more stringent requirements set by the IRS and state agencies, your tax preparer may request additional information to file your tax return. These additional safeguards will help ensure tax refunds are dispersed to intended taxpayers. The IRS intends to process nine out of 10 refunds in 21 days; however, state refund time frames vary, allowing for additional steps to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. Check your state tax agency’s website for details.
The Security Summit alone can’t protect your identity and refunds. You also must take steps in the battle, including safeguarding your personal and financial information online and at home. BKD’s article, "Identity Theft – A Victimless Crime?", highlights best practices for reducing potential identity theft. BKD’s article, "Tax-Related Identity Theft: What Affected Taxpayers Need to Know," covers the growing epidemic of tax-related identity theft and steps for affected taxpayers.
Tax-related identity theft victims understand the frustrations and numerous agencies required to resolve matters. It takes the IRS up to 120 days to resolve a typical taxpayer identity theft matter (complex cases can take longer), resulting in delayed refunds. If you've have been a victim of tax-related identity theft and were assigned an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN), provide this information to your tax preparer as it will confirm your identity on future filings. The IRS will mail you a new IP PIN prior to each filing season.
The Security Summit’s new approaches to combat identity theft and taxpayer refund fraud may invoke some minor filing inconveniences, but remember these are for your protection.
Remember: The IRS does not contact taxpayers through email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communications, such as text messages or social media channels. The IRS also does not call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests.