Iovation is advising businesses and consumers about how to protect data and personal information to avoid identity theft during tax season.
As the IRS has made it more convenient for taxpayers to file returns electronically and receive refunds in days, the amount of fraud has risen dramatically. In 2012, the Inspector General at the Treasury Department estimated that between then and 2017, the IRS could issue $21 billion dollars in fraudulent tax refunds.
“We understand the difficulty faced by the IRS in preventing online and mobile fraud because we stop it every day for our clients. Tax season puts a spotlight on the need for businesses to protect their customers from cybercriminals—a charge we are passionate about leading,” said iovation Vice President of Corporate Development, Jon Karl. “Ultimately, this type of online crime affects businesses and their customers, which is really all of us.”
The best way for consumers to protect themselves against tax fraud and identity theft this tax season is to:
- Use a strong password to protect your electronic filing. Once your return has been e-filed, save the file to a CD or flash drive and then delete the personal return information from your hard drive.
- Be aware that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media tools to request personal or financial information. The IRS does not send emails stating you are being electronically audited or that you are getting a refund. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
- Always safeguard your personally identifiable information especially on unsecured Internet sites.
- Contact the IRS immediately if you discover more than one tax return was filed under your name. This is a good indication that your identity might have been stolen.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents with your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on it.
- When e-filing, be sure to work on a device that you verify is free from malware and, if using a wireless network, make sure that it’s a password-secured, trustworthy environment.
Earlier this year the IRS announced they will continue work started in the previous tax season to, “increase both the number and efficiency of the identity theft filters that are used to identify potentially fraudulent returns due to identity theft prior to the processing of the return and release of any refund.”