The filing deadline to submit your 2016 Tax Return is Tuesday April 18, 2017 rather than the traditional April 15, date. But did you know this is THE time for tax identity theft? Scammers are filing phony tax returns using stolen Social Security numbers to steal YOUR tax refund from the IRS.
Tax identity thieves obtain personal information in a number of ways. For example:
* Someone goes through your trash or steals mail from your home or car.
* Imposters send phony emails that look like they're from the IRS and ask for personal information.
* Employees at hospitals, nursing homes, and other businesses steal your information.
* Phony or dishonest tax preparers misuse their clients' information or pass it along to identity thieves.
You won't likely learn that you've been a victim until you e-file your Tax Return and discover that "your" return was already filed using your SSN.
If you're a victim, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 to report the fraud and complete an IRS ID Theft Affidavit Form 14039 available online at IRS.gov. I'd also recommend you contact the 3 credit reporting agencies as well.
Tax season scams are rampant and cybercriminals are spreading. One current scam begins with bogus emails attempting to obtain your tax information.
STEP 1: Cybercriminals send emails posing as potential clients. Tax preparers respond, and the criminals send a second email with a malicious attachment. The tax preparer falls for the attack that compromises the computer and now the criminals "own" your tax preparer's computer with your information.
STEP 2: The cybercriminals then use the tax preparer's computer to send out legitimate looking emails to all the tax preparer's clients and obtain their financial records. The scammers then quickly file a fake tax return and pocket your money, using the illegally obtained information.
If you receive any email about your taxes, or your W2, pick up the phone and verify with your known, trusted tax preparer that they actually sent you the email. If you send tax information via email, triple-check that the email address you are sending information is correct and type the email address yourself in the "To" field.
NEVER click on "reply" and attach your tax information, because that reply email address might be spoofed. Want to be 100% safe? Hand-carry your tax info to your preparer and do the tax return in person with them.
More next week on the 2017 Legislative Session. We are making great strides on the critical Estoppel issue. We continue working very hard to address a proposed law making Board Member inaction a felony. More to come...