Pining for the Taxpayers’ PIN: Identity Theft

Identity Theft in Salt Lake CityIdentity theft is a prevalent problem during tax refund season in the US, and while it is a growing problem, the IRS is still looking for ways to solve this. They now issue six-digit IP PINs, but as cyber crimes continue to rise, who can assure that identity thieves will not get their hands on these as well? In fact, attempts have been made. In a statement from the IRS, it was revealed that there was an attempt to breach their system, but was deterred before anyone’s information have been stolen.

Did you know that you could get your PIN stolen by people phishing for your personal information via email? There are other ways wherein identity thieves could get to your PIN without you even noticing. Top accountants from Salt Lake City share more information below:

How prevalent are tax identity theft cases in the U.S.?

In 2013, the IRS paid out $5.8 billion in bogus refunds due to identity theft. In 2014, 32.8% of identity theft complaints were related to taxes and wages, and finally, in 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had reported a 50% increase in identity theft complaints. With the number of people filing for complaints at the IRS, it takes them an average of 278 days to resolve these problems.

How can identity theft be prevented?

Set up online accounts using passwords that combine both uppercase and lowercase characters. If possible, include numbers to make them strong enough to stall possible hackers. When it comes to emails, spam is one of the ways identity thieves try to phish for personal information. So, be careful of links or forms that are coming from suspicious addresses. If you are transmitting personal information via wireless internet, make sure that your connection is private and secure.

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Identity thieves can also contact you via phone, saying that they are from the IRS. According to the Wall Street Journal, “One tidbit of information you should know is that the IRS never acts quickly. Legitimate IRS traffic always starts with a series of letters and only gradually moves to phone calls or meetings”.

Always remember that prevention is the best option before things take a turn for the worse. With the prevalence of cyber crime, it’s best to be aware of the ways to protect yourself against these thieves.