CPA Jamie Block of the New York State Society of CPAs discussed efforts by the IRS prevent identity theft this tax season Monday on News 8 at Sunrise.

Block, of Wealth Design Services, said, ” If you have a Social Security Number or you’re a living, breathing person, you could be a victim. It’s very important you’re aware of all the various scams that are around, as well as how you can control, or at least try to prevent them as much as possible.”

Block said electronic theft is hard to control – including computer hacking, telephone scams, email scams and also tax return fraud filing with the government.  “In the past the IRS required employers to submit copies of  W-2s and 10-99s by January 31,” noted Block. “That’s not changed. What has changed though is the IRS are now requiring employers send the same information to them by January 31. In the past, it used to be in March sometimes. Someone could file a fraudulent return with refunded information, and the IRS would have nothing to match it with, so they would just issue those refunds and now someone’s out of luck.”

As individuals, Block said there are things we can do to be proactive in protecting our identity.  “I’m sure everybody has heard this a million times, but you really need to change those passwords,” she said. “We have a gazillion of those passwords on every account possible, but it’s very important we change those passwords routinely. Make sure they’re complex passwords with symbols, numbers, capitals, and so forth. Also, make sure you shred any personal information that you have that you don’t want out in circulation, have up-to-date virus scanning software and a fire wall, and make sure you’re not clicking on links you’re not sure where they’re from.”

Block added that if you receive a tax-related communication that you’re not sure where it came from or if it’s authentic, consult a trusted CPA for advice.

For more information with Block, click here.

For more information from the New York State Society of CPAs, click here.