The number of taxpayers affected by tax identify theft is skyrocketing according to the 2015 tax software survey conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' Journal of Accounting. About two thirds of tax practictioner reported at least one client victimized by identify theft during the current tax season. The association has about two hundred thousand U.S. members that serve a large portion of the country's taxpayers.
Although tax identify theft was widespread, it was not pervasive. In the survey, conducted in May, most CPAs reporting theft of clients’ IDs said the problem affected fewer than 5% of their clients, although 2% of respondents said between 6% and 10% of their clients were victims. About 0.3% of respondents reported more than 11% of their clients were victims.
Problems on the IRS' own networks may have led to some of the recent surge in illegal activity. The IRS discovered recently that their online transcript service had been hacked by criminals who had stolen information on more than a hundred thousand taxpayers. The site was taken down in May and has yet to be restored. Transcripts must now be ordered by mail.
But most activity is likely the result of data mining and phishing by overseas networks of online criminals who aggregate publically available information on U.S. taxpayers along with illicitly gained information. Nathaniel Jacobson CPAs recommends you limit the amount of personal information you make available online in social media and shopping sites in order to thwart such data aggregating schemes. And rememember that no financial institution or arm of the government will email you logon or credential requests.
Are you a victim of tax identify theft or think that you are? Give us a call to set up a free consultation. We can quickly set your mind at ease and help protect your interests.