According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losing nearly $6 billion to fraud in 2021, a 70 percent increase from 2020. Identity theft was one of the most common type of scams.
Tax season is here and experts anticipate scammers will focus their attention to stealing returns. Most people won’t know their identity has been stolen until the Internal Revenue Service rejects their return. If this happens, more than likely it means your tax return has already been filed by an identity thief. Cybercriminals use your stolen personal information to pose as you and try and get a free refund. When this occurs, it may take several months or even years to receive your refund.
Experts say tax fraud may increase this year as families are likely to receive more benefits. They can get up to $3,600 per child in Child Tax Credits, up to $8,000 for two children in Dependent Care Credits and at least $6,000 for the Earned Income Credit. There is also the stimulus payment that thieves will be looking to get their hands on.
According to the IRS “Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information."
Identity thieves have evolved and continue to find ways to trick unsuspecting consumers into clicking on links that download keylogging malware onto their device. This malware can steal everything you type including the personal information you use on tax documents. It's important now more than ever to safeguard your personal information with an identity theft protection plan that starts protecting where identity theft often begins.