Your Friends that Count
Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week offers important information
Identity thieves are on the prowl in today’s growing world of social network sites and online forums. Even conscientious consumers are becoming victims at a higher rate. Identity theft continues to be the highest reported consumer crime to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and has been for 15 consecutive years. Furthermore, identity theft topped the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) list of tax scams for 2016. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue the criminals that file fraudulent returns using someone else’s Social Security number.
“These staggering statistics should be an alarm to taxpayers and legislators alike to increase awareness and protection from this crippling crime,” said John Kasperek, Jr., President of John Kasperek Co., Inc., a Certified Public Accounting Firm in Calumet City, Illinois. “Our firm is re-emphasizing to our clients this year to act with extreme caution, especially with protection of Social Security Numbers.”
Learn more about what you can do to protect yourself against tax-related identity theft and IRS scams through February 3rd during Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week (TITAW). Check out free webinars and other events provided by the FTC, IRS, the National Association of Tax Professionals, Identity Theft Resource Center, Department of Veterans Affairs and more.
The IRS encourages at minimum, these basic steps for protecting your data:
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Use strong passwords.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card companies and even the IRS.
- Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure.
“At the very least, make sure you and members of your household are aware of the fraudulent phone and email phishing scams,” added Kasperek. “These scams ranked two and three on the IRS list of tax scams for 2016.”
If you believe you are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. You may also report instances of IRS-related phishing attempts and fraud to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
As always, these statements reflect the opinions of John Kasperek Co., Inc. and you should consult your attorney and/or tax professional to best determine how the law affects your unique situation.