Nowadays, with the help of the Internet, it has become easier than ever to watch an HD-quality movie, book a ticket, order a meal, or say, file your tax returns. But despite the many pleasures the Internet provides, it turns out that not so many people know exactly how to use this technology safely, especially when it comes to protecting one’s identity. Read this article to learn how to avoid online tax fraud.
With the development of new technologies, not only law enforcement has more resources to detect and fight fraudulent activity, but also unscrupulous individuals have more ways to deceive others at their disposal. One of such ways is using the Internet to steal one’s identity.
A lot of people use some kind of software to calculate their taxes and then submit their income information via the Internet. The first threat you may encounter during this process is choosing software. It might turn out that the program you are using is actually a kind of malware that steals your personal information (name, social security number (SSN) and date of birth) and then transmits this data to a fraudster over the Internet. The malware might even change some of your personal computer software so that once you’ll attempt to access the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, you’ll be redirected to a similar-looking website and, instead of filing a return, reveal everything a criminal needs to know to steal money from you. The criminal may then use these details to file a return in your name and then try to claim a refund, essentially making you a fraud victim.
Another way you can be approached by scammers is by phishing text messages, email or even social media. Someone claiming to be an IRS agent or a representative of a legitimate tax preparation company, will try to talk you into giving them your personal data or issue a wire transfer as an advance payment for their services. The offender may also target businesses trying to obtain its employees personal information from an HR or finance department representative, sometimes using a compromised email account of someone from the company’s senior management.
As you see, the ways are many. Still, you can protect yourself against scammers. As experienced tax attorneys with a leading NYC law firm, we have dealt with multiple cases of online tax fraud, and based on our experience we suggest you follow these guidelines when preparing your returns.
If despite all the precautions taken you have fallen victim of cyber tax fraud, there is still something you can do to try to get your money back.
You are most likely to learn that you’ve been defrauded only when you file a return yourself and then find out that a return associated with your SSN has already been submitted. In this case, the Internal Revenue Service recommends you to follow these guidelines:
The penalties for cyber tax fraud hardly differ from the more traditional type. However, in this case identity theft is often involved, which may make the final sentence for an indicted person twice as harsh. However, the tax system is far from being easy to make out, which makes it easy for anyone to commit fraud, be it a regular taxpayer or a licensed professional. Therefore, it is necessary to hire a skillful tax fraud lawyer who will be able to prepare a solid defense case.
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