For taxpayers in Dallas, Texas, and throughout the country, tax time can be a stressful seasons. The filing of accurate returns and timely payments is the best way to avoid issues with the Internal Revenue Service and other tax entities, but even individuals who do everything they are supposed to sometimes run into tax woes. Some issues relate to the actions of current or previous spouses, making innocent spouse relief an option. In some cases, however, troubles stem from identity theft or hackers.
According to reports, cyber criminals filed $3.6 billion in false tax returns in 2011. Criminals use information stolen from legitimate taxpayers to file for refunds, effectively bilking both the federal government and taxpayers. Compromised information can lead to you losing your own tax refund or running afoul of IRS audits in the future.
Individuals and businesses in the Dallas area can help protect their tax information through common sense steps. One way scammers obtain the information necessary to file false tax returns is through email phishing schemes. Emails may appear to be official communication from the IRS or a financial institution. They ask individuals to click links or provide information such as Social Security numbers. According to security experts, the IRS does not communicate via email to request personal information.
Other steps to protect your information include being aware of suspicious activity on social networks, not disclosing specific information in online areas with public access and using a unique password when logging into Internet-based tax filing software. You should also never work on sensitive online accounts such as tax software when using open wireless networks at the public library or a coffee house. If you do run into tax trouble caused by fraud, understanding your legal rights and conducting an in-depth investigation into your tax account history are the first steps in seeking relief.
Source: Entrepreneur, “How to Keep Your Tax Returns Safe from Hackers” Jennifer Schlesinger, Mar. 20, 2014