The information below was sent through email to the IT Security Community and Frontline Notify groups on April 27, 2016.
Each year, across the country, some taxpayers discover that criminals have filed fraudulent returns in their name and stolen their refund and identity information such as their Social Security number. The IRS is warning consumers of a 400% increase in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season. Through February, the IRS caught Over 30,000 Tax Returns Involving ID Theft.
Over the past few years at U-M, we have seen tax fraud and related identity theft affect an increasing number of people and continue well into June. This year is no exception. We have received reports that a small number of U-M staff and faculty again have been the victims of tax fraud this year (typically a criminal filing a tax return using the victim’s stolen identity). While these instances of tax fraud do not appear to be related in any way to the university’s systems or business processes, we continue to review reports that we receive.
There are many ways that criminals can acquire Social Security numbers and other sensitive data for use in tax fraud. Some methods include phishing scams, computer malware, and underground criminal markets for personal information. Data breaches within government, corporations, and other organizations are common (see In the News on Safe Computing).
We provide information about tax fraud on the Safe Computing website that you can refer people to if they suspect they may be victims of tax fraud or have questions about it:
- 5 Tips to Avoid Online Tax Fraud (includes information about reporting tax fraud to the IRS)
We recommend that people who suspect they are victims of tax fraud do the following:
- Alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit by calling (800) 908-4490 or online (Reporting Fraud and Abuse Within the IRS E-File Program) and complete the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039).
- Alert the appropriate state tax organization. In Michigan, contact the Michigan Department of Treasury by calling (517) 636-4486, sending email to Treasury-ReportIDTheft@michigan.gov, or sending U.S. mail to Identify Theft Unit, Income Tax Division, P.O. Box 30477, Lansing, MI 48909.
- Place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit report by following the instructions on the Federal Trade Commission’s Credit Freeze and Fraud Alert FAQs.
- File a report with your local police department.
- Notify the ITS User Advocate by sending email to ITS.User.Advocate@umich.edu