Tax-related identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit tax fraud.
According to the IRS, tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
Know the Signs of Identity Theft
You may not know you’re a victim of identity theft until you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return.
Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if:
You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
You’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number but you did not request an EIN.
One IRS press release stated, "Tax professionals should remember to educate everyone who works for them to be on the lookout for phishing emails. Sending scam emails is still the most common tactic used by cybercriminals to steal sensitive data."
More than 90 percent of all data thefts start with a phishing email. Cybercriminals use phishing emails and malware to gain control of computer systems or to steal usernames and passwords. It’s important tax pros and every single one of their employees know how to spot these scams. Tax professionals and others in the business world are only as safe as their least educated employee.
Keylogging was included in the tactics used to steal data. According to the IRS release, "An attachment may contain malicious software called keylogging. This software secretly infects a computer and provides the thief with the ability to see every keystroke. Thieves can then steal passwords to various accounts. The thief can even take remote control of computers, enabling them to steal taxpayer data."
The IRS says if you do suspect you are a victim of identity theft, continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must file a paper return.