More than two-thirds of U.S. consumers are concerned about tax fraud and identity theft this year, according to a recent survey. Their fears are well-founded: More than one-third reported having had their identity stolen in the past.
The burden of increased digitization of financial and general communication infrastructure is cyber security. While going paperless is faster, more efficient and more convenient for accountants, their clients, and everyone in between, security must remain a central consideration as firms go electronic. The IRS has issued several alerts about tax scams warning of a 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents this tax season, including a surge in W-2 phishing and TurboTax hacking attacks.
The Better Business Bureau Northwest is sounding the alarm about a new email phishing scam targeting users of Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software.
Victims receive an email in their inbox with the subject line, “QuickBooks Support: Change Request.” The email claims to be a confirmation from Intuit that a business has changed its name and contains a hyperlink that the recipient can click on to cancel the request.
Leaders from the IRS and state tax agencies along with executives from the private-sector tax industry marked the first year of their ground-breaking Security Summit partnership to combat identity theft tax fraud by recapping 2016 accomplishments and turning toward 2017 efforts.
The IRS has issued a warning to taxpayers about bogus phone calls from people impersonating agency employees who demand payment for a non-existent tax that is referred to as the “Federal Student Tax.” (IR 2016-81) While the filing deadline has passed, scammers continue to use varied strategies to trick people, IRS said, adding that, in this case, students are being targeted. As described by the agency, if the victim does not react quickly enough to the demand for this fake “federal student tax,” the scammer threatens to report the student to the police. “These scams and schemes continue to evolve nationwide, and now they’re trying to trick students,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers should remain vigilant and not fall prey to these aggressive calls demanding immediate payment of a tax supposedly owed.” For further information, go to https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-warns-of-latest-scam-variation-involving-bogus-federal-student-tax.
The Tax Return Identity Theft Protection Act of 2016would strengthen the existing penalties for identity thieves, establish tougher sentences for crimes against vulnerable and frequently targeted groups, and clarify the state-of-mind proof requirement that has prevented some identity thieves from being held accountable.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) urges taxpayers to remain on “High Alert” and has announced additional outreach efforts to prevent them from falling victim to criminals who impersonate Internal Revenue Service and Treasury employees this filing season.