The IRS said last Friday that the number of taxpayers whose tax information may have been stolen by computer hackers since 2014 is at least 724,000 â€” more than double the agency’s previous estimate. The number is more than double the figures the IRS released in August 2015, when it said some 334,000 taxpayers had their data stolen via authentication weaknesses in the agency’s Get Transcript feature.
The IRS said a more comprehensive, nine-month review of the Get Transcript feature since its inception in January 2014 identified the “potential access of approximately 390,000 additional taxpayer accounts during the period from January 2014 through May 2015.” They confirmed that an additional 295,000 taxpayer transcripts were targeted but access was not successful, and that mailings notifying these taxpayers will start February 29. The agency said it also is offering free credit monitoring through Equifax for affected consumers, and placing extra scrutiny on tax returns from citizens with affected Social Security numbers.
Although the IRS has improved at blocking phony refund requests, the agency still paid out some $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds that year that it later determined were bogus. Experts say that is only the fraud the agency knows about, and the true number is likely much higher. Whether or not we see an increase in tax refund fraud next year, one thing seems certain: the IRS will prosecute far fewer of the crooks involved. Congress has persistently underfunded the IRS, and budget cuts have pushed prosecutions of identity thieves to a new low. According to the IRSss 2015 Annual Report, IRS identity theft criminal investigations are down almost 50 percent since 2013. It is up to you to protect yourself from tax refund fraud and one of the best ways to do this is to file your taxes before the thieves can. Your primary defense against becoming the next victim is to file your taxes at the state and federal level as soon as possible after the 2016 Tax Filing Season begins. It doesnâ€™t matter whether or not the IRS owes you money – thieves can still try to impersonate you and claim that they do, leaving you to sort out the mess with the IRS later.
If you have not started your state and federal tax returns yet, NOW is the time. Contact us today to schedule your FREE tax analysis so we can identify any credits or deductions you may have missed last year and include them on this year’s return. We’ll file your return promptly which will help you stay one step ahead of the tax refund thieves
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File Your Return Early To Help Prevent Tax Fraud
Your best defense against becoming a victim of tax refund fraud is to file your taxes at the state and federal level as soon as possible.