IRS tax attorneys report that tax identity theft is on top of the IRS’ 2012 list of Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. By all accounts, theft of tax refunds continues to be a growing problem. Many IRS tax lawyers say that often these thefts are perpetrated by organized criminal gangs that either con, steal or buy taxpayers’ information to generate fraudulent returns.
A report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates the IRS uncovered 245,000 cases of identity theft relating to tax year 2010 alone. According to several IRS tax attorneys, most of these cases involve unsuspecting taxpayers whose social security numbers were stolen and used by unscrupulous thieves to file false tax returns.
IRS tax lawyers reviewing the GAO’s report indicate the number of identity theft cases has increased approximate 364% increase in the past two years. These same IRS tax attorneys say that number may, in fact, understate the actual number of cases which have yet to be uncovered.
So what should you do if you believe your personal information has been compromised? Uniformly, IRS tax attorneys recommend you immediately alert the IRS and others if identity theft is suspected. They also suggest you review the Agency’s top 10 things to know about identity theft which have been listed below:
1. The IRS will not initiate contact with a taxpayer via email;
2. If you get an unsolicited email from the IRS, forward it to email@example.com;
3. Identify thieves can get your information through a number of means (steal your wallet/purse; posing as someone who needs your personal information – like a bank or insurance company; going through your trash; accessing an unsecure email account or internet site.);
4. If you find a web site claiming to be the IRS, and the URL doesn’t begin with www.irs.gov, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org;
5. Learn how to indentify unsecure websites, visit the Federal Trade Commission at www.onguardonline.gov/tools/recognize-secure-site-using-ssl.aspx;
6. If someone steals your social security number, they can give it to an employer to avoid paying taxes on their income;
7. Your identity may have been stolen if the IRS notifies you there is more than one tax return on file for you during a particular year;
8. If your tax records have not yet been adversely affected by identify theft, but you believe you identity may have been compromised (i.e. lost wallet) you should follow the FTC guidance for reporting identity theft at www.ftc.gov/idtheft, and consider contacting the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 800-908-4490;
9. Show your Social Security card to your employer when you start a new job or to a financial institution for reporting purposes, but don’t carry the card around in your wallet routinely; and
10. The IRS has information about identity theft reporting, phishing and related fraudulent activities on its website, www.irs.gov.
If you have been the victim of identity theft and your tax records have been compromised get help. Contact the IRS immediately, and if you need assistance fixing the problem, consider consulting a competent IRS tax lawyer to get answers you may need to fix the problem.
Segal, Cohen & Landis
9100 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 601E
Beverly Hills, CA 90212