Tax season is upon us and although some residents find the process frustrating as it is, you may face some extra complications this year.
Specifically, there could be a greater amount of fraudulent tax returns filed this spring than in the past. Marketwatch reports that fraud levels might surpass any year prior, partly due to the national Equifax security breach.
Identity thieves may target taxpayers
Over the course of May through July of 2017, Equifax suffered a data leak that the company finally exposed last September. During this time, hackers may have accessed the Social Security Numbers and personal information of millions of Americans.
Hackers may be able to use this information to commit identity theft, which might allow them to illegally obtain your tax return. They may even impersonate an IRS official on the phone. In a scam call, they can trick you into revealing more private data in order to make the tax return appear legitimate. Elders may be particularly vulnerable to these attacks.
Furthermore, the IRS might not be fully equipped to handle a spike in tax crime. In a previous post, we wrote about how a lack of funding has impacted the IRS. Not only could this issue slow down service to taxpayers, but it may also impede investigations. If the Equifax breach does increase fraudulent returns, victims may have a harder time finding justice.
Don’t become a victim of tax fraud
There are three ways to keep yourself safe from tax fraud:
- File as early as possible
- Be wary of phone scams and IRS imposters
- Verify your credit score and check if you were affected by the breach
Audits and incidents of suspected fraud must be approached with caution. The stakes are high at both the state and federal levels. Because these cases are so complex, taxpayers are encouraged to reach out for legal help when they need it.