According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report on the 2010 tax returns, one of the fast raising issues relating to taxes is identity theft. There are many cases of taxpayers’ identities being used to defraud the IRS of tax refunds. This leaves the genuine taxpayers waiting for lengthy periods of time as the IRS has to sort out the mess (and in many occasions, the IRS unable to retrieve the defrauded funds). The increase of the identity theft crime has been enhanced by widespread use of modern technology, including the internet. In fact, between 2008 and 2010, there has been a five-fold increase in identity theft tax fraud cases.
There are various ways in which the identity thieves get personal information from taxpayers unawares. However, one of the more common ways they “phish” for information is by sending random emails to people, informing them that some information is needed by the IRS to complete certain transactions. These phony emails will even come with an “irs.gov” email address to give it a genuine appearance. The IRS has warned taxpayers against such correspondence, claiming that it is a system hack. They have provided information on their website to help taxpayers avoid identity theft.
For starters, the IRS does not communicate through email and will never ask for any information from you through email correspondences. They will either send a physical letter or make a telephone call if they need any personal details. You can also verify any correspondence that comes from the IRS by calling their official telephone number and seeking verification. If you receive any emails that claim to have come from the IRS, you can forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org to enable the IRS to investigate further regarding the source of the email. Do not open any attachments or click any links, as such an act can cause various viruses to infiltrate your computer, allowing access to your personal information and data. Some of these viruses can spy on your personal information, interrupt online banking activities, or other gain access to other financial transactions or information.
Recently, there have been spam emails that are being circulated to random email addresses. The email will typically have the heading, “IRS Tax transfer rejected,” “Federal Tax transaction canceled,” “Rejected transaction – Federal Tax payment,” or other such related topics. The email has the official IRS logo and comes with an irs.gov email address. The email has a rejection reference number and asks you to either open a link or download a document to find out more about the reason for the rejection. It is advisable not to open the attachment or click on the link, as it is suspected to be a computer virus. The fraudulent email is similar to one that was being sent out last year targeting small businesses that was linked to a virus. The virus interjected various operations, including online banking. To avoid being scammed into these tricks, simply delete any email that claims to come from the IRS and call them directly to verify whether or not they have attempted to contact you about any IRS tax issues.