The Internal Revenue Services and its Security Summit partners are encouraging professional tax preparers to increase their efforts to inform clients about the IRS’s Identity Protection PIN Activation Program to combat theft of identity related to taxes.
IRS IP PINs are now available
The call came during the Security Summit’s annual summer campaign focused on tax professionals and taking action to stop data theft in their offices. Last year saw an increase in identity theft with scammers using the pandemic, fake emails, social media posts and unexpected phone calls impersonating IRS agents and other tactics to steal the money and people’s identity.
For security reasons, tax professionals cannot obtain an IP PIN on behalf of clients. Taxpayers must obtain their IP PIN.
What is an IP PIN?
Fraudsters often trick or hack into the computer systems of taxpayer tax professionals to gain access to confidential data. They use the stolen data to file fraudulent tax returns, making it harder for the IRS and authorities to detect them. This is because fraudulent returns use real financial information. In some cases, fraudsters may sell tax preparers or taxpayer information to other fraudsters to file fraudulent tax returns.
The IP PIN is a security tool currently available to IRS taxpayers. This tool helps make it harder for criminals to file false tax returns in the taxpayer’s name.
An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security number or individual tax identification number. The IP PIN is known only to you and the IRS and helps you verify your identity when you file your electronic or paper tax return.
“These Identity Protection Numbers provide an additional layer of security to protect individuals against tax fraud involving the use of stolen personal information. Following work by the IRS, the IP PIN program is now available to anyone who can verify their identity. We urge tax professionals to encourage their clients to protect themselves through the IP PIN program,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/getanippin to complete a comprehensive authentication check. Once authentication is complete, an IP PIN will be provided immediately online. A new IP PIN is generated every year for added security.
The IP PIN protects your taxpayer account, even if you no longer have to file a tax return, by rejecting any return filed electronically without your IP PIN.
Some red flags to look for with suspicious communications
Unsuspecting taxpayers and tax professionals are often prime targets for both tech-savvy and tax-savvy criminals. Tax scams often prey on stress and fear when targeting identity theft victims. Remember, the IRS will not call out of the blue about a tax refund.
When approached by potential scammers, know that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first send a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
The IRS will not immediately threaten to bring in the local police or other law enforcement groups to arrest the taxpayer for failure to pay. Nor will it require taxes to be paid without allowing taxpayers to question or appeal the amount owed.
Tax professionals experiencing data theft can help clients by urging them to quickly obtain an IP PIN. Even if a thief has already filed a fraudulent return, an IP PIN still provides protections for years to come and will prevent taxpayers from becoming repeat victims of tax-related identity theft.
The IP PIN process for confirmed victims of identity theft remains unchanged. These victims will automatically receive an IP PIN each year.
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