Home Archive Tax-related identity theft plunge in US, but still falling short

Tax-related identity theft plunge in US, but still falling short


The US Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) efforts in partnership with state tax authorities and the tax industry (known as the Security Summit), to combat tax-related identity theft paid off. The IRS reported that some of the main indicators of ID theft fell for the second consecutive year.

It included a 40% decline in the number of taxpayers who reported they were victims of identity theft in 2016. In 2017, the IRS received 242,000 reports, compared to 401,000 in 2016. Since 2015, when the IRS received 677,000 victim reports, the number of tax-related ID theft victims has plummeted by nearly 65%.

“These dramatic declines reflect the continuing success of the Security Summit effort,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter in a statement. “This partnership is helping protect taxpayers against identity theft. More work remains in this effort, and we look forward to continuing this collaborative effort to fight identity theft and refund fraud.”

The financial has been a key partner in the Security Summit in combating identity theft, helping the IRS recover fraudulent refunds that may have been issued. Last year, banks recovered 144,000 refunds compared to 124,000 in 2016, a 16% increase.

Despite the IRS’s progress on combating identity theft, a report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) pointed to ways in which the IRS could improve its authentication processes further. TIGTA examined how well the IRS has been fixing its electronic authentication controls in response to the high-profile security breaches.

TIGTA auditors found the network monitoring tools that the IRS bought to improve the prevention and detection of automated attacks weren’t fully implemented because of issues related to resources, incompatibility and higher priorities.

The IRS agreed with TIGTA’s recommendations, including coming up with a plan to ensure the remaining issues preventing full implementation of network monitoring tools are addressed.