About 81 percent of taxpayers filed their returns electronically in 2012, the independent IRS Oversight Board said in a report released late Friday, Jan. 4. Fraud experts around the country are discussing the report which included statistics about electronic filing and identity theft tax fraud.
Unfortunately the problems the IRS encountered in 2012 may continue to be issues this year. Experts know that cybercriminals will find new ways to outsmart systems put into place by the IRS.
While the report discussed that it will use more advanced data analytical processes and e-authentication, Jay Foley of ID Theft Info Source doesn’t hold out a lot of hope that both taxpayers and the IRS won’t have another identity theft headache in 2013. We talked on Jan 7 after he had received a number of calls from media.
“Many taxpayers don’t realize they are a victim of identity theft tax fraud until they try to file their own taxes and find out someone else has done so before them. Many of us don’t file until March or even early April,” Foley said in an interview with Today.com. “The criminals file almost as soon as forms are available. In other words, they get your return before you even file.”they get your return before you even file.”
These thieves are using information that was stolen throughout the year and sold in underground black markets. Any breach or theft that included your Social Security number places that number at risk, including a lost purse that had the Social Security card in it.
Foley said that one reporter asked about the security of filing online. “Electronic filing is definitely safe, perhaps safer than mailing papers. Tax forms can be stolen or lost in the postal system.”
“If you do your own taxes either do them on a computer that is not used by other family members, especially teens who game and use Facebook. If you need to use a family computer then insert a flash drive, download the forms onto that, and then do your taxes on the flash drive. Remove it and put it in a safe place afterwards. That way this sensitive information won’t be accessible to anyone who may send a virus or Trojan.”
If you use a paid preparer make sure they are well-established and that all information is exchanged in a private room and not in a booth in a box store. As an identity theft expert I have seen that problem year after year. It is far too easy for people to overhear your conversations. One year the police even arrested criminals that were using long-range scopes to see the computer screens.
According to data in the new report in 1998 most taxes were submitted in paper format. However by 2008 the number of people submitting electronically was almost equal to those submitting by mail. Last year 136 million people e-submitted compared to about 56 million who still sent their forms in by postal mail according to the IRS report.
One of the advances the IRS has implemented will help tax fraud victims. Anyone who has been an identity theft tax fraud victim will be given a special filing number to separate his or her tax filing from one that a thief is using. They also promise more help for people who suspect that they may be a tax fraud victim.
Foley said that if you don’t get your tax return within a reasonable time to contact the IRS Victim Assistance Line and ask for an investigation.