How can Individuals Prevent Tax Return Identity Theft Issues?

With 2022 almost in the rearview mirror, many Americans are now looking ahead to 2023’s tax season. Others might still be stuck dealing with the IRS, facing the consequences of identity theft. Every year, thousands of people are subject to identity theft, which often heavily impacts their tax returns. Not only can Edgeworth’s Intelligence division help prevent identity theft from happening in the first place, but can also mitigate the damages should the worst occur.

What are Fraudulent Tax Returns?

Fraudulent tax returns happen when someone other than the individual submits a tax return using their Personal Identification Information (PII) in the attempt to steal their tax refund.

PII is any information that can be used to identify an individual; this includes but is not limited to social security number, driver’s license number, financial or medical records, phone number, home and business addresses, and email addresses. In order to submit a fraudulent tax return, the criminal needs access to, at the very least, an individual’s name and social security number. With that information they are able to submit fraudulent tax forms in the individual’s stead.

How Can Individuals Tell When One has been Filed?

Most people are unaware that any fraud has occurred until their own tax return is rejected due to duplication. Some other warning signs that someone else has submitted a fraudulent tax return in your name include being the victim of a data leak, not being able to e-file your tax return, suspicious activity in your online IRS account, receiving an Employer Identification Number you did not ask for, and receiving a paper letter from the IRS reporting suspicious behavior. If you experience any of these warning signs, contact the IRS directly to report a possible fraudulent tax return in your name. DO NOT respond to any emails, texts, or social media messages that ask for any personal or financial information, even if they appear to be from the IRS. This is a common phishing scam, and may actually lead to your identity being stolen.

Once a fraudulent tax return has been submitted and any tax refund money sent to the fraudulent account, it can be very difficult to reverse this and receive your due tax refund. After being notified of possible fraud activity, it can take months for the IRS to investigate the matter. It also requires the identity theft victim to submit dozens of forms and identity verification files to the IRS to prove that the first tax filing was fraudulent and that they are who they say they are.

Identity theft can happen to anyone if they do not take the proper precautions against having their identity stolen. If your PII is leaked on either the internet or the Dark Web, it can be very difficult for the everyday person to erase their data from all possible locations.

In the case of high-net worth individuals, identity theft and tax return theft can mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.

Fortunately, Edgeworth can help the high-net worth protect both their identity and safeguard their tax returns.

How Can Edgeworth Help Prevent Identity Fraud for those in the public eye, or those with significant assets to protect?

Edgeworth Security’s Intelligence Operations Division proactively identifies your sensitive and exposed personal information anywhere online and on the dark web, making you a hard target for any sort of bad actors, including identity thieves.

Edgeworth’s cross-functional Intelligence team has developed several procedures to protect our clients against identity theft. Edgeworth uses cutting-edge open source intelligence techniques to monitor both the Surface web (social media, industry sites, and news) and the Deep web for mentions of our clients’ private information, whether it be addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, email account information, or social security number.

Once detected, our team then works to get that information removed or altered so that it no longer presents a risk to our customers or their family. Our team will also inform the client of the security breach so they can keep the appropriate authorities informed, including the IRS, their local police department, and all three credit bureaus.

Can Edgeworth Still Help if Fraud has Already Been Committed?

Having a proactive intelligence team already preventing identity theft in the first place is the best option, but if you have recently experienced a successful identity theft attempt or fraudulent tax return submission, Edgeworth can still help mitigate the damages to your finances and credit reputation. Using the same open source intelligence techniques above, Edgeworth can identify any further leaks of your PII and neutralize them so they can no longer be used by any other bad actors.

If action is not taken and your PII is still available somewhere, there could be further fraudulent tax return attempts, or other crimes committed with your PII. If they have access to your social security number (necessary to submit fraudulent tax returns), they could open unauthorized credit accounts, steal your Social Security retirement benefits or unemployment payments, or even receive medical care using your medical insurance.

Who is Edgeworth’s Intelligence Services Best Suited For?

Edgeworth Security’s intelligence services are available to anyone who is able to purchase them. While the everyday person can certainly retain Edgeworth, typically clientele for intelligence services are high-net worth individuals, CEOs, public figures, and those with significant assets to protect. These individuals generally are both the most at risk and have the most to lose. People who have confirmed that their private information has been compromised, however, might also be especially interested in having our intelligence team clear their information to prevent further damage.

Let Edgeworth Protect you from Tax Return Fraud

When it comes to guarding your sensitive information from bad actors, it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive. Protect yourself and your entitlements with PII Monitoring and Mitigation Services by Edgeworth Security’s Intelligence Operations Division. Call (703) 939-5804 to speak directly to one of our expert team members.

Want to learn more about our cutting-edge Intelligence services and other ways they can protect your online presence? Head over to our Intelligence page.