Identity Theft During Tax Season
As we prepare to file our income taxes, cybercriminals are preparing to make use of stolen identities from data breaches. Over 168 million people are expected to file their tax returns. Identity theft activity increases at this time, so it is important to be aware of how cybercriminals steal your information and use it to take out a loan, open a line of credit or file a tax return using your information.While high-profile data breaches continue to provide cybercriminals a resource for personal information, they can also find the data they need right from personal devices and home computers. Keeping all devices updated and using security features like multi-factor authentication (MFA), built-in firewalls, biometrics and long passwords (or passphrases) are some of the best ways to lower your risk of compromise. As routine transactions like paying bills, renewing a driver's license or filing taxes become more digital, more caution is needed to protect your information from misuse.
The IRS provides multiple guides to protect information for individuals and businesses.
IRS Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft – A great source for tips on how to protect your identity and what to do if you are a victim of identity theft.
IRS Publication: Security Awareness for Taxpayers – Information on IRS efforts to protect taxpayers from identity theft.
IRS Identity Theft Information for Businesses
Identity theft can also occur right over the phone as fraud calls related to filing income taxes increase significantly at this time. Callers posing as IRS agents may contact you and attempt to trick you into believing the call is legitimate in order to collect a payment or personal information. Taxpayers who receive suspected calls from the IRS should report them immediately. More information is available from the IRS Tax Tip website.
Identity Theft Tax Season for Tax Professionals
Tax season is a prime time for cybercriminals. It’s the time of year that information stolen from data breaches and personal devices is shared and sold on the dark web to facilitate identity theft. While it’s important for individual taxpayers to be aware of these threats and take necessary precautions, it is equally important for tax professionals to take similar steps to protect client information and data. The IRS provides a guide for tax professionals to assist with protecting client data as well as the business.
Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself
Find helpful tips to protect yourself from cybercrime at our Cybersecurity Center!