The IRS strengthened awareness of identity theft and data security protection for taxpayers, tax professionals, and businesses by launching “Identity Theft Central,” a 24/7 resource on how to identify theft and protective measures to guard against these actions.
Information for Individual Taxpayers: Taxpayers have access to the “Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft,” including information about steps to take if one falls victim to identity theft. The Identity Theft Central preemptively alerts taxpayers to possible tax-related identity theft schemes. They warn that you may be involved in an identity theft scheme if:
• You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file;
• You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number;
• You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request;
• You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name;
• You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action;
• You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return; or
• IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer for which you didn’t work.
The Identity Theft Central lists several ways that taxpayers can protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft. Some suggested tips for protecting data and identity on cell phones and computers include:
• Use security software and make sure it updates automatically; essential tools include virus/malware protection and a firewall.
• Use encryption programs to protect sensitive digital data.
• Treat your personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.
• Use multi-factor authentication when it’s offered.
• Give personal and financial information only over encrypted websites; look for “https” addresses.
• Back up your files.
• Create strong, unique passwords:
o Use long phrases that you can remember, combined with characters and
o Use a different password for each account and use a password manager.
o When possible, don’t use your email address as your login ID.
o Use two-factor authentication whenever it’s offered. This is particularly important for protecting your email, financial, and social media accounts.
Sometimes identity theft will present itself in the form of a phishing email or scam. The IRS estimates that 91 percent of all data breaches and cyber-attacks begin with a phishing email. These emails may appear to come from a trusted source, such as a bank, or contain an urgent message that prompts one to follow a link to update information. Taxpayers should always verify the source of these emails and report
suspicious activity to the IRS.
The Identity Theft Central reminds taxpayers that the IRS will never contact taxpayers via email, social media, or text to request personal information or taxpayer Identity Protection PINs. The IRS will never threaten taxpayers with lawsuits or arrest. If a taxpayer is ever unsure of suspicious activity, it is better to
be safe than sorry, and call the IRS to verify activity.
In the event that a taxpayer’s Social Security number is stolen or compromised, the IRS recommends following these steps:
• Respond immediately to any IRS notice: Call the number provided.
• If your e-filed return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under your Social Security number, or if the IRS instructs you to do so, complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit (PDF). Attach the completed form to your return and mail your return according to instructions.
In the event a taxpayer believes that a fraudulent return has been filed using his or her name, he or she may request a copy by completing Form 4506-F, Request for a Copy of a Fraudulent Tax Return. In the event a taxpayer e-files his or her tax return and receives a message that a dependent on his or her return has been claimed on another tax return, or if he or she receives an IRS Notice CP87A, he or she may be a victim of identity theft. Form 886-H-DEP lists acceptable documents that the taxpayer can use to prove that he or she was entitled to claim the dependent.
Individuals must undergo a thorough identity verification process, but once approved, the IP PIN is valid for an entire calendar year. If you need professional help with a Pin, contact the office of Don Fitch Accountancy at (760)567-3110 or Email Don.Fitch@CPA.com.
DON FITCH, CPA
74478 Highway 111 #3
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Toll Free: (877)CPA-Help or (877)272-4357
(Updated 02/26/2021 05:54)