Have you filed your taxes yet? If not, hurry up and get them done. Cybercriminals are stealing taxpayer IDs to file fraudulent returns and claim big refunds.
If your ID is used to claim a tax refund in your name, that can seriously delay the money owed to you, and create major headaches for years. Ironically, this is due to the IRS's identity protection program, IP PIN (identity protection personal identification number).
The IRS created the IP PIN for taxpayers who've been victims of ID theft. It's a six-digit number that stops cybercriminals if they use your Social Security number to electronically file a tax return.
You use the IP PIN on all your tax forms, if the IRS has assigned you one. This year, the IRS issued 2.7 million IP PINs. However, as we recently told you, a cybercriminal used a South Dakota woman's IP PIN to file a fraudulent tax return.
The problem seems to be related to the IRS's system to retrieve your IP PIN, if you forget it. The IRS, which temporarily shut down that retrieval system, requires easy-to-answer questions, like the taxpayer's name and mailing address.
If the cybercriminal stole that information from you, or if they know you, those knowledge-based questions are easy to answer. They could even search on Facebook and other social media sites for your information.
"The IRS is conducting a further review of the application that allows taxpayers to retrieve their IP PINs online and is looking at further strengthening the security features on the tool," the IRS said in an official statement.