Tax Commission News Release
Tax Commission warns of identity theft scams; what to do if you become a victim
BOISE, IDAHO — April 10, 2017 — What if you file your income taxes only to learn that someone already filed a return using your name and Social Security number? Unfortunately, you won’t be alone if this happens to you. Tax agencies across the nation continue to see tax refund fraud from identity theft, with the criminals using stolen personal information from phishing and malware incidents. The Idaho State Tax Commission wants you to be aware of some identity theft scams and what steps you should take if you become a victim.
Some of the most common scams include:
- Phone calls from criminals impersonating tax officials who say they’re looking at your tax return but need you to give them your Social Security number and click on a website.
- Criminals may also call to seek other personal information or demand immediate payment, threaten arrest, criminal prosecution, account seizure, deportation, or the filing of a lien against your property.
When in doubt about a caller, hang up and call the organization the caller claimed to be representing for confirmation.
“Phishing” or “spoofing” emails:
- Individuals: These emails look official but are actually fake emails that often go to fake websites, designed to steal personal information. Criminals pose as your bank, your credit card company, your tax software provider, your company executives – and even the IRS.
- Organizations: Some cybercriminals use spoofing emails that look like internal emails sent from an organization executive requesting copies of some or all employee W-2s. If this information is provided, the criminals then file fraudulent tax returns for refunds. If you come across this type of email in your workplace, you should connect with the requester by phone or face-to-face to confirm if the request is legitimate.
So far this year, the Tax Commission has saved nearly $300,000 of Idaho refunds from getting into the hands of criminals. The agency is sending letters asking some taxpayers to verify their identity and that they filed a return before it issues a refund. Taxpayers also have a role in safeguarding their confidential information and knowing what to be on the alert for.
You may be a victim of identity theft if:
- Your attempt to e-file your tax return is rejected.
- You receive a letter about a tax return you haven’t filed yet.
- Someone calls or emails you pretending to be the IRS.
- You are notified by an employer or vendor that your personal information was part of a data breach.
“We’re hearing about more and more data breaches every day. This means that the odds are increasing that someone will use your identity at some point,” said Tawnya Eldredge, the Tax Commission’s identity theft victim assistance coordinator. “Be alert for anything unusual, and if you become aware that someone has used your personal information, please call us at the Tax Commission. We’ll help clear up your tax issues so you can get your refund, and we’ll get you started on the next steps,” added Eldredge.
- If you discover that you’re an identity theft victim, here’s what we suggest you do:
- Visit the Tax Commission’s “Identity Theft” webpage, and then call us so we can help you protect yourself from further harm. Also notify the IRS.
- File a police report with your local law enforcement.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and keep a copy for your records.
- Check your credit through annualcreditreport.com and request a fraud alert on your account.
- Keep monitoring your personal accounts (bank, credit, etc.), and stay alert for attempts to use your identity. Victims are more likely to be preyed upon repeatedly.
To report suspected tax fraud from identity theft, call the Tax Commission at (208) 334-7660 in the Boise area or toll-free at (800) 972-7660.
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