Passwords

Despite Major Progress, Identity Theft Still on IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams List

From IRS.com

Even though reports of tax-related identity theft have declined markedly in recent years, the Internal Revenue Service warns that this practice is still widespread and remains serious enough to earn a spot on the agency’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams.

The Dirty Dozen is compiled each year by the IRS and outlines a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. Many of these cons peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire tax professionals.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses a stolen Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to file a fraudulent tax return claiming a refund.

The IRS, the states and the tax industry began working together in 2015 as the Security Summit to fight tax-related identity theft. Security Summit partners enacted a series of safeguards that are making inroads against identity thieves.

For example, the number of taxpayers reporting themselves as identity theft victims declined by 40 percent in 2017 from 2016. In 2017, the IRS received 242,000 reports from taxpayers compared to 401,000 in 2016. This was the second year in a row this number fell, dropping from 677,000 victim reports in 2015. Overall, the number of identity theft victims has fallen nearly 65 percent between 2015 and 2017.

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Five Things To Know About Identity Theft (Forbes)

With tax season in full swing, identity-theft-related tax fraud has become a hot topic. While taking steps to protect yourself from identity theft is always smart, it's important that you don't get too caught up in the hype. I've received a number of emails from panicked taxpayers who, after watching various news spots on the dangers of identity-theft-related tax fraud, are feeling confused and pressured. Unfortunately, some of the advice making the rounds - while certainly sensational - isn't very practical. Here are five things you need to know about identity theft and tax returns:

  1. Not all data breaches or computer hacks result in identity-theft-related tax fraud.

  2. Filing early doesn't prevent identity theft.

  3. Rushing to file an incomplete return isn't a good strategy.

  4. Not every taxpayer needs an IP PIN.

  5. An IP PIN isn't a one-time fix.

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Strong Passwords Help Keep Tax Data Safe

IRS Tax Tip 2017-92, December 18, 2017

Passwords are often the key to guarding access to personal information and data stored on computers or sent over email. Because most taxpayers file their returns electronically and access account information online, it is critical for taxpayers to not only create strong passwords for all tax-related accounts, but to do everything in their power to protect those passwords.

Here are seven things taxpayers should consider when creating and protecting passwords:

  • Longer passwords are safer and more difficult to guess. A strong password should be a minimum of eight characters. It should include a combination of letters, numbers, symbols and special characters.
     
  • A password should include at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number, and one symbol or character.
     
  • Taxpayers should not include personal information in passwords.  A criminal can find names of siblings, friends, children and pets on social media sites. This makes it easier for cybercriminals to figure out a person’s password that includes these names.
     
  • Avoid using the same password for all information systems, accounts and devices. If someone does guess one password, they will not have access to all the other accounts.
     
  • Taxpayers can substitute numbers and symbols for letters in words or phrases to make it more difficult for a thief to guess a password.
     
  • People should never share passwords.
     
  • Taxpayers should be careful of attempts to trick you into revealing your password.

Taken from https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/strong-passwords-help-keep-tax-data-safe