Tax ID Scams Reduced, But Keep Your Guard Up


Tax experts are giving some credit to … the IRS.

That's because there's a big drop in scams where people steal your personal information, file a fake return, and then pocket a big refund.

Income tax ID theft dropped 46 percent last year, according to the IRS.

Acting on complaints from taxpayers who were ripped off by fraudulent filers, the IRS made efforts to prevent tax ID theft.

Those steps appear to be working. The number of victims of income tax ID theft dropped 46 percent last year, according to the IRS.

The number of victims of income tax ID theft dropped 46 percent last year, according to the IRS.  The decline continues from the peak in 2014, when 766,000 filers had they data ripped off, and a fat, but fake, refund claimed in their name.

But some observers credit the IRS for improving its computer filters to flag fake returns – and for partnering with tax preparers and state tax departments to improve security.

The result: the total number of fraudulent files has dropped – far below the levels seen five and six years ago.

That’s when people steal your personal data, file by a bogus return with a big refund, and collect the money.

If you are a victim, you’ll still get your refund, but your tax return will need to be filed through the mail and it could take several more weeks to see your return.

The IRS explains: “Phishing (as in ‘fishing for information’) is a scam where fraudsters send e-mail messages to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal the victims’ identity.

“The IRS has issued several alerts about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scammers trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information to steal their identity and assets.

“Scam emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. These phishing schemes may seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information,”

Variations can be seen via text messages, the IRS adds.


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