Longer processing times and the effects of new fraud prevention measures are among the changes iovation has found after reviewing a selection of 2015 tax returns.
The IRS now takes up to three times as long to review the average tax return. While such a return took one week in 2014, it can now take as long as three weeks because of the new fraud prevention measures and extra diligence in early fraud detection.
The goal for 2016 is to issue 90 percent of refunds within three weeks.
Tax fraud is common and it has many effects, iovation CTO Scott Waddell explained.
“Tax and wage-related fraud was the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2015, so the fact that the tax review periods have tripled to combat fraud is encouraging. We applaud the government’s efforts to minimize tax fraud because those criminals aren’t just costing the government money, they’re also hurting taxpayers and businesses.”
Among the measures introduced by the IRS this year are industry-wide standards for passwords, account validation and information sharing.
The IRS said it stopped 1.4 million identity theft returns worth $8.7 billion. In 2013, identity theft cost $5.8 billion.
Tax fraud begins with a fraudster obtaining a real Social Security number. They file the return as early as they can in order to beat their intended victim to the money.
The victim finds out they have been scammed when they submit their return and it is rejected because one has already been filed under that SSN.
The fraudster often elects to receive a prepaid debit or gift card so they do not have to enter banking information and so they can easily and quickly spend the money.
While refunds come within three weeks, it takes an average of 278 days before an identity theft claim is cleared.
There are several steps people can take to prevent being victimized by tax fraud. File early so a fraudulent use attempt will be denied. Shred documents containing personal information and lock your mailbox if you expect a check.
Mail, phone and e-mail scams are more prevalent during tax season so be vigilant. The IRS will never call or e-mail you to ask for personal information – they already have it. If you submit electronic photographs of tax documents, delete stored images as soon as you can, and do not submit on a public Wi-Fi system.
Also use a trusted tax preparation service.