The IRS is continually working on improving the security of your digital data held in their systems in an effort to prevent identity theft. Together with state tax administrators and the  private tax industry, the IRS has launched a public awareness campaign with tips on how you can help prevent identity theft at home as well.  YouTube videos and weekly tips on how to protect your passwords, keep your documents secure and avoid malware on your computer are further explained in this announcement. As taxpayers were filing their returns in 2013, the IRS announced a national crackdown on identity theft schemes aimed at stealing taxpayers' refunds. In 2013, the IRS said it has already worked to resolve more than 200,000 identity theft cases. An identity thief generally uses a legitimate taxpayer's identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund. The real taxpayer may be unaware that tax identity theft has occurred until he or she files a return later in the filing season. IRS records indicate the individual received wages from an employer, yet the taxpayer is unaware of them. When this type of tax identity theft fraud occurs, an individual's refund can be delayed for months or longer while the IRS unravels who is legitimate.
A south Florida hospital employee allegedly stole patient Social Security Numbers and birth dates in order to participate in a tax ID theft scheme.
The grieving father of a 4-year-old deceased Virginia girl learned a tax return was filed with her Social Security Number when he filed his return. A Maryland woman was contacted by the branch of a national tax preparation service that provides "refund anticipation loans." Apparently, someone filed a tax return in her name and took a loan for $1,000. The number of tax-related identity theft cases has increased substantially in recent years, according to IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina E.
The tax agency has faced criticism in its handling of cases from many fronts, including the Taxpayer Advocate. Delayed access to third-party income and withholding information - Third parties are not required to submit income and withholding documents to the IRS until March 31, yet taxpayers can begin filing returns in mid-January. The use of direct deposits, including debit cards, to claim fraudulent tax refunds - "Direct deposit provides the ability to quickly receive fraudulent tax refunds without the difficulty of having to negotiate a tax refund paper check," TIGTA noted.

2.  Don't give out your Social Security Number to businesses or medical providers just because they ask for it. 8.  Victims should get an Identification Number from the IRS that proves you are the legitimate filer of future tax returns. In addition to criminal actions taken to reduce tax identity theft, the IRS conducted a special compliance effort starting on January 28 to visit money service businesses to help make sure the businesses are not assisting identity theft or refund fraud when they cash checks. If you have questions about identity theft, contact your tax adviser or visit the IRS website for more information. Unofficially about 7% of electronically filed tax returns were fraudulent in the last filing season. The tax agency expanded a program designed to help law enforcement obtain tax return information about victims, which is critical to efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of tax identity theft. Here is a description of how tax identity theft works, along with eight steps you can take to help protect yourself from the devastating results. The identity thief uses a stolen Social Security Number and other identifying information to file a forged tax return and attempt to get a fraudulent refund early in the filing season. The Employer Identification Number (EIN) of a real organization could be fraudulently used to report fake earnings and withholding.
The employee passed the data onto another individual in exchange for a cut of fraudulent refund money received. The father believes his daughter's personal information may have been sold online after her death.
The tax preparation service contacted her to repay the loan when an IRS refund wasn't issued to cover it. Tax refunds provided by the IRS on debit cards allow a thief to make ATM withdrawals or spend the money on purchases at stores.
If you believe someone has used your Social Security Number fraudulently, notify the IRS by responding to the name and number printed on the notice or letter. The IRS issues Identity Protection Personal Identification Numbers (IP PIN) to select identity theft victims whose identities have been validated by the IRS.

The IRS may issue a refund to the thief before it realizes that there is no matching, legitimate paperwork from the employer. In her latest annual report to Congress, Olson stated that identity theft case receipts increased by more than 650 percent from fiscal years 2008 to 2012. It allows legitimate returns to be processed, and prevents processing of fraudulent returns, thereby mitigating processing delays in victims' federal tax return processing. At the end of fiscal year 2012, the IRS had almost 650,000 identity-theft cases in its inventory service wide.
Don't give personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with. Use a strong password (minimum 8 digit, combination of letters, numbers and special characters) for your online tax account. Someone with access to your data could file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund under your name.
IRS will only send out letters by mails to taxpayers. File your tax return earlier if you can. If it happens, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.Scammers will try to reel you in. Extend your tax return deadline to October 15 may give more time for the scam artists to steal your tax data. Ever get a call or email from someone asking you to verify your account information or SSN? As for analog documents, such as tax records, store them in a locked desk or filing cabinet and don't send them through the mail unless it's certified.Reporting the crime is a must. Because once criminals have your information, they may use it to perpetuate many types of fraud.Protecting your identity is, of course, something to be mindful of all year round - not just during tax season.

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