Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) has issued a warning to businesses and individuals that tax identity theft and refund fraud schemes where criminals steal an employee’s information and file a fraudulent tax return to claim and redirect a taxpayer’s refund are off to a fast start this filing season.
According to the FTB, approximately 100 businesses employing 126,000 individuals suffered from tax identity theft in 2016, and roughly 80 businesses have already been targeted in the first weeks of 2017. Tax season traditionally runs from January to Tax Day, which this year falls on April 18, 2017.
The FTB advises human resources officers to be wary of any suspicious W-2 data requests that come from outside of the business that could be the work of scammers seeking to commit tax identify theft and refund fraud. The FTB also urges individual taxpayers to be cautious of the following:
- Any phone call or email requesting passwords or information about credit cards and bank accounts since FTB agents never ask for these details.
- Threats to contact local police or other law enforcement if a tax debt is not paid.
- Demands for payment by third-party or pre-paid debit cards.
“Protecting personal information is always important, but fraudsters are even more prevalent during tax season,” State Controller chair of FTB Betty Yee stated in the warning. “Our FTB team is working hard to weed out fraudulent returns and ensure tax refunds go to the rightful taxpayers.”
The FTB prevented more than $70 million worth of tax identity theft and refund fraud during Fiscal Year 2015-2016, up from more than $28 million during Fiscal Year 2014-2015. The FTB works with the IRS Security Summit and Federation of Tax Administrators to help stop tax identity theft and refund fraud.
The FTB administers two of California’s major tax programs: Personal Income Tax and the Corporation Tax. Taxpayers are urged to report tax identity theft and refund fraud schemes to FTB as soon as possible either by calling the FTB at 800.852.5711 or visiting www.ftb.ca.gov/online/Fraud_Referral/index.shtml.
As reported earlier by ESR News, Javelin Strategy & Research released the 2017 Identity Fraud Study that found the number of identity theft victims increased 16 percent to reach 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, and that the amount of money taken rose by nearly one billion dollars to $16 billion.
More Information about Identity Theft from ESR
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