July 4, 2018
ABLE Accounts: Frequently Asked Questions – One
When it comes to filing your tax return, you put in the time and effort to complete every form accurately and according to the instructions. But even if you do everything by the book, a tax identity thief may still file a fraudulent return in your name. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. In fact, despite having prevented more than 787,000 fraudulent tax returns in 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid out $239 million in “suspect” refunds.
So, what steps should you take if you find yourself a victim of tax identity theft? To help answer this question, let’s take a look at how cyber criminals obtain your personal information.
How does tax identity theft work?
Cyber criminals can obtain your personal information in a number of ways, including the following:
- Posing as an IRS representative and procuring information via phone or e-mail
- Sending phishing e-mails
- Stealing your W-2 from your mailbox
- Accessing personal information over nonsecure Wi-Fi networks
To fraudulently file taxes, a thief needs your name, social security number (SSN), and date of birth. From there, he or she can easily falsify “your” W-2 information in the hopes of claiming a refund. You—the taxpayer—won’t find out about the fraud until you receive notification from the IRS that your real tax return has been rejected. By then, the damage has already been done.