Posts Tagged ‘identity theft’

Is It Time For You To Finally Start Working With A Tax Preparer?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

The exclusive purpose for the information which is provided from this website is to disseminate information, and not to provide tax advice. 

You have no doubt recently read information about the declining levels of support that is being provided by the Internal Revenue Service.  The U.S. Congress has reduced their budget significantly and the IRS has decided to reduce their number of staff, professionals, and support personnel.  Insofar as “support” is concerned, this is probably most apparent in our inability to speak with a representative using the “1-800″ number to obtain answers to our tax questions, or the length of time that we are required to remain “on hold” in the telephone queue.  In stark contrast to the realties of this situation, I have found no authoritative source that has gone on record to state that the IRS has reduced their level of  required compliance with all of the tax laws nor has their been an increase in the number of allowable errors or omissions in a tax return.  The allowable error rate remains at ZERO!

In addition to the above facts, taxpayers are being subjected to (this is not a complete list) fraudulent activities such as tax scams, phishing, persons impersonating charitable organizations, persons claims to obtain free money for you from the IRS, tax return preparer fraud, threatening telephone calls, someone fraudulently filing your own tax return for you and obtaining your tax refund, fraudulent e-mails that appear to be authentic with malware or virus laden attachments, identity theft, telephone calls with phony arguments, and others calling you to inform you that you owe the IRS delinquent taxes and that your property will be seized today if you do not pay them immediately.

The IRS has always utilized the U. S. Postal service to provide you with your written initial notification that there are issue(s) with your income tax return.  They do not use the Internet nor do they use e-mails.  Period!

Given the above facts and information, there are several different groups in which most taxpayers can be classified:

1.  You are not required by law to file a tax return.  However, you may file as an option to recover Federal or state income taxes that have been withheld, or a tax refund for which you are legally due (refundable tax credits);

2.  You are required to file a tax return but you have a relatively simple tax situation.  You can file your own tax return yourself using the IRS’s “Free File” (or similar) system;

3.  You have been filing your own tax returns in the past but you have determined that you will need some (or a significant level of ) assistance in filing your tax returns now;

4.  You are already working with an Enrolled Agent,  tax attorney, or CPA.

If you now consider yourself to be in group or category #3 above, the following information may be beneficial for you:  (more…)

Winning The “War” Against Tax Scammers!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

The exclusive purpose for the information which is provided from this website is to disseminate information, and not to provide tax advice. 

There exists a multitude of methods to communicate with each other within the United States, and the world for that matter.  Some (myself included) would argue that we have lost our effectiveness in communicating verbally with each other, and with other members of our family.  Another  facet of this situation has evolved from others, with both fraudulent and criminal intentions, who seek to take advantage of technology to prey upon others for their own financial gain.  In many instances, they are successful.  Unfortunately, this also imposes a huge toll on the victims in terms of both financial losses, and emotional pain and suffering.  In my opinion, both can last years in duration.

The effects are compounded by the state of our global environment – the fact that many, many Americans do not feel secure or safe.  A recent report stated that the number is higher than 70%.  Anonymous (difficult to track or identify the source) communications are pervasive.  Many American use e-mails on a regular basis.  We provide our e-mail address to sellers, suppliers, contacts etc. on a regular basis.  These parties sell that information to other sources for their own financial gain.  The information is probably re-sold to other firms.  Our personal information and data is stored for years by entities with whom we have relationships – banks, retailers, the U.S. Government, financial institutions, credit card companies, etc.  Their security systems are susceptible to being penetrated (“hacked”) and the information is captured and used fraudulently by criminals.

The contacts which you will eventually encounter include, but are not limited to: threats (may be written or oral), “phishing”, “hostage” capture of your PC and data, “Trojan Horses”, identity theft, malware, viruses, fraudulent telephone calls, “hacking” etc.  In the past several years there has been a continuous year-over-year increase in the number of serious telephone scams.  The script can be one of several forms (i.e. from the IRS or from someone claiming to be from the police or hospital stating that your son or daughter has been in an accident and is near death, or that you have an unpaid claim from  someone who has now taken legal action against you, etc.)

This post is related to those which are related to situations in which the fraudster is claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (Federal or state).  The caller’s goal is to intimidate you and to escalate the tenor of the call to the point at which you believe all, or most of the statements that have been made to you, and you are willing to cooperate fully with the caller.  Their ultimate goal is to have you provide them with financial information that they will use to commit their fraud.

While I can not speak for all state taxing authorities within the United States, rest assured, the IRS will always initially communicate with you in writing.  Always ignore these fraudulent calls.  If you don’t know what to do, call 911, your CPA, your attorney, or a trusted friend or relative.

Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts

 

https://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts

 

The IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

The exclusive purpose for the information which is provided from this website is to disseminate information, and not to provide tax advice.

Each year, based on information derived from their data base, the Internal Revenue Service publishes a list of the top twelve tax return scams that have been observed, and in many case, prosecuted by the Federal government.  The IRS is continuously leveraging the many benefits and advantages which are being provided by and  associated with information technology.  While you may have been able to participate and gain from one or more of these scams in the past by being “under the radar”, that situation is rapidly changing.  If you are considering any of these activities, or if you are planning to participate in a tax scam, you would be wise to reconsider the risks and adverse outcomes from your plans.

You may also look at this list and determine whether or not your current or past activities have placed you at risk for becoming a victim of one or more of these tax scams.  If there are risks, then perhaps you should make several important changes in your plans and activities to either reduce or eliminate these risks.   

If you have already filed either a fraudulent, incorrect, or erroneous tax return, you should contact either a Certified Public Accountant or tax attorney immediately. (more…)

Cyber Crime = Identity Theft & Fraud

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The exclusive purpose for the information which is provided from this website is to disseminate information, and not to provide tax advice.  

This is the fourth article on this subject which has been posted by me on this website (http://www.billseabrookecpa.com/blog/?s=identity+theft ).  Just as a fire needs air, heat, and fuel to exist,  in order for identity theft to occur, there has to be an unsuspecting victim, an account number, and a cyber-criminal.  It is beyond the scope of this article to present the multitude of scenarios that can or do facilitate identity theft.  However, the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly applicable. 

The nucleus of the identity theft situation is the “account number”.  Unfortunately, the most predominantly used account number is our Social Security account number.  Once a cyber-criminal has this number bank accounts and credit cards can be opened, financial transactions processed, identification cards created (fake driver’s licenses) etc.   

Additionally, cyber-criminals can fraudulently file a tax return using your account information and divert any refund which is due you to their own accounts.   There are several steps which you can follow to avoid becoming another “identity theft victim”: (more…)

Be Aware of These Tax Scams!!

Friday, February 17th, 2012

The exclusive purpose for the information which is provided from this website is to disseminate information, and not to provide tax advice.

This article addresses some of the more common tax scams that have already been identified from actual filed complaints.  However, there are others in existence.  For many different reasons, in some cases the victims have elected not to file a report or complaint.  In summary, there are far too many unscrupulous people in the United States whose main goal in life is to continuously engage in these activities.

Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

 

The Internal Revenue Service has issued its annual “Dirty Dozen” tax scams list, reminding taxpayers to use caution during tax season to protect themselves against a wide range of schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud.

The Dirty Dozen listing, compiled by the IRS each year, lists a variety of common scams taxpayers can encounter at any point during the year. But many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns.

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division works closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

Here are five of the Dirty Dozen tax scams for 2012:

Identity theft   In response to growing identity theft concerns, the IRS has embarked on a comprehensive strategy focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. In addition to the law-enforcement crackdown, the IRS has stepped up its internal reviews to spot false tax returns before tax refunds are issued and is working to help victims of identity theft refund schemes.

Identity theft cases are among the most complex ones the IRS handles, but the agency is committed to working with taxpayers who have become victims of identity theft.

The IRS is increasingly seeing identity thieves looking for ways to use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity and personal information to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund.

An IRS notice informing a taxpayer that more than one return was filed in the taxpayer’s name or that the taxpayer received wages from an unknown employer may be the first tip off the individual receives that he or she has been victimized. Anyone who believes his or her personal information has been stolen and used for tax purposes should immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. For more information, visit the special identity theft page on this website.

Phishing    These scams are typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure potential victims into providing valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can commit identity theft or financial theft.

If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov.

It is important to keep in mind the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS has information that can help you protect yourself from email scams.

Return preparer fraud    About 60 percent of taxpayers will use tax professionals this year to prepare and file their tax returns. Most return preparers provide honest service to their clients. But as in any other business, there are also some who prey on unsuspecting taxpayers.

Questionable return preparers have been known to skim off their clients’ refunds, charge inflated fees for return preparation services and attract new clients by promising guaranteed or inflated refunds. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. Federal courts have issued hundreds of injunctions ordering individuals to cease preparing returns, and the Department of Justice has pending complaints against many others.

In 2012, every paid preparer needs to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and must enter it on the returns he or she prepares.

Signals to watch for when you are dealing with an unscrupulous return preparer would include that they:

  • Do not sign the return or will not include a Preparer Tax identification Number on it.
  • Do not give you a copy of your tax return.
  • Promise larger-than-normal tax refunds.
  • Charge a percentage of the refund amount as preparation fee.
  • Require you to split the refund to pay the preparation fee.
  • Add forms to the return you have never filed before.
  • Encourage you to place false information on your return, such as false income, expenses and/or credits.

For advice on how to find a competent tax professional, see Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer.

Hiding income offshore    Over the years, numerous individuals have been identified as evading U.S. taxes by hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or nominee entities and then using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access the funds. Others have employed foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annuities or insurance plans for the same purpose.

The IRS uses information gained from its investigations to pursue taxpayers with undeclared accounts, as well as the banks and bankers suspected of helping clients hide their assets overseas. The IRS works closely with the Department of Justice to prosecute tax evasion cases.

While there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements that need to be fulfilled. U.S. taxpayers who maintain such accounts and who do not comply with reporting and disclosure requirements are breaking the law and risk significant penalties and fines, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution.

“Free money” from the IRS & tax scams involving Social Security     Fliers and advertisements for free money from the IRS, suggesting that the taxpayer can file a tax return with little or no documentation, have been appearing in community churches around the country. These schemes are also often spread by word of mouth as unsuspecting and well-intentioned people tell their friends and relatives. Scammers prey on low-income individuals and the elderly. They build false hopes and charge people good money for bad advice. In the end, the victims discover their claims are rejected. Meanwhile, the promoters are long gone. The IRS warns all taxpayers to remain vigilant.

There are a number of tax scams involving Social Security. For example, scammers have been known to lure the unsuspecting with promises of non-existent Social Security refunds or rebates. In another situation, a taxpayer may really be due a credit or refund but the scammer uses inflated amounts to complete the return for a larger refund they’ll run off with.

These are some of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2012. For a complete list, see IRS Releases the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2012.
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The Dirty Dozen English | Spanish | ASL