Connecticut Better Business Bureau reminds taxpayers that they can help reduce the chances of having a scammer intercept their tax refunds.
As part of National Tax Security Awareness Week, which runs until December 1, 2017, BBB has teamed up with the State Department of Revenue Services (DRS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to publicize measures that can help reduce income tax fraud.
“In the aftermath of immense data security breaches, we know that whenever personal information is stolen or shared, there is a substantial risk of becoming a victim of identity theft and income tax fraud,” according to Connecticut BBB spokesman Howard Schwartz. “The two go hand in hand.”
National Tax Security Awareness Week comes as consumers are shopping for the holidays and spending a growing amount of time on the internet, which is one of the prime sources of identity theft.
Income tax refund fraud involves criminals using stolen personal information to submit an income tax return in the victim’s name and having the refund sent to their own address.
In a news release, the IRS notes “The number of data breaches was already on a record pace for 2017 before the reported theft of nearly 145 million Americans’ names, addresses and Social Security numbers brought the issue to the forefront.”
While consumers and businesses cannot prevent data breaches, they can take measures to lessen the chances of becoming victims.
The IRS is posting daily security tips on its website this week (IRS.gov), many of which deal with tightening computer security and other sources of ID theft. The Connecticut DRS has a front page section devoted to income tax time and Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.ct.gov/drs/.
The DRS and IRS say consumers and are not alone in the fight against ID theft and tax fraud. Measures have been taken and continue to be tightened, and tax fraud scammer operations are being pursued and shut down.
Fraudulent emails sent to businesses are also used to perpetrate income tax fraud. Business owners and employees have a learning curve as well to protect themselves from tax department impostor telephone calls and phishing emails.
If you suspect you are the victim of identity theft or tax fraud, you can contact the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services by telephone at 855-842-144, or visit the CT DRS website.
You may also report tax theft to the IRS Tax Fraud Hotline recording at 1-800-829-0433, or visit the IRS website for more information.
For additional information on protecting yourself from income tax fraud, visit https://www.bbb.org/taxscam/.
Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB helps consumers find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust, offers objective advice and a wide range of education on topics affecting marketplace trust.
BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses. Today, 113 BBBs serve communities across the United States, Canada and Mexico, evaluating and monitoring more than 4.7 million local and national businesses and charities.
For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org/connecticut.