socastcmsRssStartBy Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Government officials are warning tax filers that identity thieves are getting smarter about accessing information and using it to steal tax rebates.
An investigator with the Internal Revenue Service joined officials from the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois and the Illinois Department of Revenue to speak out about the growing dangers of identity theft in a month where this type of criminal activity are known to spike.
The number of fraudulent tax claims has dropped slightly since 2016, largely thanks to new systems in place to recognize when a scammer is trying to illegally get someone’s tax return, said Gabriel Grchan, special agent in charge with the IRS Criminal Investigation Chicago Field Office.
In light of this, criminals are evolving, now more commonly taking tax returns by stealing information via fake emails that can take over a computer with the simple click of a link.
“When you open the file, it downloads malware to your computer and then they steal all the information from that in order to file a false tax return in your name,” he said.
The IRS will never send you an email or call as the first means of contact.
“We initiate contact through the mail and then we follow up with phone calls after that,” Grchan said.
Robocalls, automated voices claiming to be with the IRS threatening prosecution, have become commonplace.
“We do not ask for payment on gift cards,” he said. “These threatening calls are not from us. If you get them, just hang up.”
A recent study by a phone-screening company predicted that one out of every three calls made in 2019 will be a robocall attempting to scam people out of money.
This is National Tax Security Awareness Week.