IRS Reports Major Drop in Identity Theft, Fraudulent Tax Refunds
After teaming up with tax preparers, the IRS has seen a major drop in the number of identity theft victims, says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The number of victims was nearly halved last year, compared to the year before, however, more businesses are being targeted, he says.
According to Fox Business, thieves stole the identities of nearly 700,000 victims in 2015, but in 2016, the number dropped to 377,000. In the first five months of 2017, the IRS identified 107,000 identity theft victims. Thieves are using stolen identities to try to obtain fraudulent tax refunds.
To combat the problem, the IRS updated its computer files to identify more fraudulent returns, and the major tax preparers have increased their security. However, as individuals’ tax returns are becoming more difficult to manipulate, thieves are taking aim at data belonging to tax return preparers and tax professionals, the payroll community, small employers and human resource departments, Koskinen says.
One ploy, essentially spearphishing for identity data, involves thieves emailing workers in the payroll department of a large employer, pretending to be a supervisor seeing W-2 information about other workers.