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ASK THE EDD ATTORNEY - THE IRS “DIRTY DOZEN TAX SCAMS” FOR 2015 PART 2 – PROTECT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

By Robert S. Schriebman

January 28, 2015

Introduction

There is much press being issued from the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission warning the public of the latest criminal scams designed to obtain your confidential financial information to be used in various identity theft schemes. Rest assured that these criminals are lying awake at night trying to figure out new creative ways of making a living through theft. Identity theft cases are some of the most complex problems handled by the IRS and the Department of Justice. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, John Koskinen, announced a few days ago that the IRS's Criminal Investigation Division (CID), in conjunction with the Department of Justice, is getting results from their efforts in prosecuting these criminals. There has been an increase of 75% in criminal convictions from 438 in 2013 to 748 in 2014. Jail time has been increased for these crooks as well with the average sentence now 43 months as compared to 38 months only a year ago.

Protect Your Social Security Number

IRS Commissioner Koskinen, in the latest IRS publication (IR-2015-7) advises, "Keep your personal information safe and secure. Taxpayers should protect their computers and only give out their Social Security numbers when absolutely necessary."

Tax thieves are using your Social Security number to file false tax returns primarily for the purpose of seeking bogus refund claims. The IRS estimates that between 2011 through the fall of 2014 the IRS has stopped 19 million phony tax returns and saved the Treasury $63 billion in phony refunds. However, these efforts have not deterred crooks from coming up with new schemes.

One of the ways to protect the privacy of your Social Security number is to obtain from the IRS an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN). The IP PIN is issued to you by the IRS. It is a 6-digit number that is assigned to victims of identity theft that is used when filing your federal tax returns. The IP PIN will help avoid delays in the filing of IRS returns and receiving IRS refunds. The IP PIN is a pilot program that is currently in use in only a few states, but the IRS is expanding the program to offer almost 1.7 million taxpayers this opportunity for self protection.

IRS Commissioner Koskinen, in IR-2015-7, offers the following ways to protect you from identity theft:

  • Leave your Social Security card at home as well as any other documents that display your Social Security number. If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen you can get new credit cards with little effort, and you will be protected from the fraudulent use of your old credit cards. Once a Social Security number falls into the hands of these crooks the damage can go on for a long time.
  • Unless it is absolutely required do not volunteer your Social Security number just because someone asks for it. Ask this person why they need your Social Security number. If the answer is wishy-washy walk away or hang up.
  • Every year order your credit report and read it very carefully for any changes.
  • Carefully review your annual Social Security administration report.
  • Keep your Social Security card and other private documents at home in a safe place. You should also consider the use of a safe deposit box at your local bank. If you store your personal papers at home keep them in a fire-proof container.
  • Be suspect of anyone who tries to get your personal information over the phone. Remember, the IRS will not call you on the phone to demand payment or secure personal financial information.
  • Retain the services of a competent tax professional who you can call when you are suspicious of any contact for financial information by strangers.
  • If you do not know how to contact a competent tax attorney contact your local Bar Association for a possible referral.
  • Go to IRS.gov and review the special identity theft section set forth on this site.

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An EDD attorney, Robert Schriebman has a successful practice in the Rolling Hills Estates area of Los Angeles County serving clients throughout California and the United States.

As a trusted EDD lawyer, Robert S. Schriebman has successfully dedicated more than 40 years to helping individual taxpayers, business owners, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax attorneys navigate the complicated tax systems of the federal and state governments.

Robert Schriebman has written the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See "California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures" and "California Taxation Practice and Procedure", both published by Commerce Clearing House.

Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, "IRS Tax Collection Procedures - A Manual for Practitioners" published by Commerce Clearing House.

Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, "IRS Tax Collection Procedures - A Manual for Practitioners" published by Commerce Clearing House in addition to the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See "California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures" and "California Taxation Practice and Procedure", both published by Commerce Clearing House.

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