New Steps Announced to Combat Tax-Related Identity Theft & Fraud

Even though tax fraud has been around for years, it's becoming a bigger problem. Identity thieves are becoming more sophisticated and can use stolen personal and financial information to claim tax refunds. For example, if a criminal has your social security number, they could file a tax return and have a refund sent to them. You may not know that it has happened until you file your return and the IRS informs you that the refund was already made.

To help combat this, the IRS, state tax administrators, and the tax industry announced a new campaign called "Taxes. Security. Together." to help people protect not just their tax information but all of their financial and personal information online and off. The campaign will include YouTube videos and weekly security awareness tax tips.

In addition, if you do your taxes yourself, there will be new standards for logging into all tax software products (online and offline) including minimum password requirements, new security questions, and lockout features. When you start the tax software program, you will need to verify the type of computer—desktop, laptop, mobile device—you are using to access the software. You will also need to register your device with the software company.

Other steps you should take include:

  • Protect your device with at least a firewall, anti-virus, and anti-malware software.
  • Consider encrypting sensitive data including your tax return.
  • Beware of phishing and phone scams. Don't provide any personal or financial information in response to emails or unsolicited phone calls.

Remember that making sure that your personal and financial information is protected starts with you.

For more information

From the IRS:

From Consumer Reports: New Ways to Avoid Identity Theft and Tax Fraud

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