With the revelation that another 220,000 taxpayers may find their identities at risk in the breach of the IRS’s “Get Transcript” application, you may find yourself worried that your identity, your credit scores and maybe your life savings will wind up at the mercy of some free-spending crook.
Hacking generates screaming headlines these days, as once-relatively minor breaches of retail giants’ and insurers’ databases gave way to hacks into the IRS and perhaps every other federal agency. One in four Americans fell victim to information security breaches in the past year, according to a new AICPA (The American Institute of CPAs) survey, more than double the number of respondents who reported being victimized just over a year ago.
The IRS recently joined with representatives of tax prep and software firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators in a new collaborative effort to combat ID theft refund fraud. The agreement includes identifying new steps to validate taxpayer and tax return information at the time of filing.
The IRS Criminal Investigation division has also created a cybercrime unit to combat ID theft-related tax fraud; the agency also recently agreed to change its policy on ID theft and provide victims with copies of the fraudulent tax returns that have been filed under their names by scammers.
Anybody can become an ID victim. Another recent AICPA survey showed that more than a third of adults ages 55 to 64 fell victim to information security breaches in the last year, compared with 22% of Millennials.
- Start by practicing good password hygiene, meaning use a better method in choosing your passwords, especially for banking and other agencies as such. Always enable two factor authentication when it’s available. Visit http://lifehacker.com/four-methods-to-create-a-secure-password-youll-actually-1601854240 for more information.
- If you even suspect that your identity might be compromised… file an identity theft affidavit (Form 14039) and also see the other recommendations posted on IRS.gov.
- Contact your lenders, banks, and insurance companies and let them know the situation. Ask to close accounts. Open new ones with new personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords.
>Sources: accountingtoday.com and aicpa.org<