Has Your Personal Information Been Stolen?

As tax professionals, we most likely have more firewalls and tools in place than individuals to protect the information residing on our servers.  We are constantly checking to see if any breach has occurred and take steps to prevent any such breach.

Many individuals prepare their own income taxes using any one of the various software packages on the market to accomplish the same.  BUT, is that information as safe and secure as you think it is?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, let’s hope so. You can’t expect a criminal to wave a red flag to let you know that they have stolen your information.

So, how can you as an individual determine if your information may have been stolen?  Here are some highlights of what to look for:

  • If a return was filed electronically and was rejected by the IRS, it could be that someone has already filed a return using your Social Security Number.
  • You haven’t filed tax returns but begin to receive taxpayer authentication letters from the IRS. These letters include the 5071C, 4883C and 5747C.
  • You haven’t filed tax returns but receive refunds.
  • You receive tax transcripts that were not requested.
  • If you created an IRS online services account, you receive an IRS notice that your account was accessed and even perhaps disabled.
  • You unexpectedly receive an IRS notice that an online account was created in your name.
  • Your computer cursor is moving or changing numbers without someone touching the keyboard.
  • You get locked out of your computer.

The IRS and its partners in the Security Summit are alerting taxpayers about the signs of an ID theft as part of the Tax Security 101 awareness initiative. The goal is to provide basic information needed to better protect data and to help prevent the filing of fraudulent tax returns.




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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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