This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
Businesses sometimes fall prey to tax scams especially during the tax season. BizLaunch reached out to our partners at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to find out what business owners should be concerned about in 2018. The following blog post by IRS Senior Stakeholder Liaison Anna Falkenstein provides tips on what to do to secure your information and scams to be aware of this tax season.
Guest BizLaunch Blogger: Anna Falkenstein, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Senior Stakeholder Liaison
While the Internal Revenue Service reports that the number of reported fraudulent returns have decreased, the number of incidents and the variety of scams makes it a major focus again in the current filing season. Fraudsters are creative and consistently find new ways to scam innocent taxpayers (individuals and businesses).
The IRS has posted their annual list of the “Dirty Dozen” scams annually. You can check this year’s list at Annual List of Dirty Dozen Scams.
The IRS encourages business owners to take these scams seriously and take steps to try to prevent them. Create unusual passwords and change them periodically. Don’t use the same password for every system. Update/change passwords if an employee departs the business. Provide training regarding emails, links and attachments. Publication 4557 Safeguarding-taxpayer-data is a good tool to use to train and refresh employees on protecting data on behalf of employees and clients. Don’t forget to update anti-virus protection, encryption software and firewalls.
Should you receive an IRS notice or find something in your records that leads you to believe that you have become a victim of Tax Identity Theft, there are steps you should take to immediately circumvent the fraudsters.
Notify the IRS immediately! The faster you act, the better chance the processing units at the IRS has at stopping the fraudsters from using your information. Individuals can contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 or File a Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit) with their tax return.
Businesses who suspect a data loss from hacking can email [email protected] to start the initial reporting. Businesses should also follow state requirements to report the data loss as well. They can start this at [email protected].
Once you have determined that you are a victim of tax identity theft, you have several other steps that you can take to minimize the damage.
These include reporting to the FTC, your Insurance company, police and credit bureaus. If your theft includes personnel or client information, you will want to notify them as well. News Release 2018-27 provides the steps a business victim should take to minimize the effect of data theft: Steps Business Victims Should Take