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Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

IRS Taking Steps To Stop Tax Return Fraud

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As the 2015 filing season enters it’s earliest stages, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants to reassure people that they’re on the lookout for suspicious activity connected to tax returns.

“Tax refund fraud associated with identity theft continues to be an evolving threat, one that imposes a serious financial and emotional toll on honest taxpayers and threatens the integrity of the tax administration system,” an accountability report from August stated, showing how seriously this issue is being taken. Last year telephone scammers posing as agency agents managed to steal over $5 million from American citizens, and crimminal attempts to file duplicate returns were found to be widespread. But the better question is, what can be done to prevent such activity?

It turns out that the solution to this problem has two parts, one of individual responsibility combined with institutional safeguards. The IRS has come under fire in recent years for not doing enough to combat identity theft, so significant investments have been made to check for inaccuracies and red flags on filed information. Advances in digital records management systems allow computer filters to detect early attempts without the need for hand reviewing each case, and new personal identification numbers are assisting taxpayers with website logins.

On the personal side, many of the same practices that can prevent regular identity theft can also stop problems with tax returns before they start. Being cautious about where your social security number is entered, double checking to make sure that phone callers are legitimate, and noting the fact that the IRS does not use email for gathering information under any circumstances can all help keep your financial integrity intact. Shredding personally identifying documents can also help keep them from falling in the wrong hands, but make sure to keep track of what can and cannot be destroyed for record keeping purposes.

Ben Franklin once stated that “the only certain things in life are death and taxes” but with a little bit of knowledge and common sense we can help keep one end of that secure.

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