Early tax refunds will be delayed by the IRS this year for over 40 million low income families, utilizing the extra time to pay extra attention to investigate the possibility of identity theft and fraud. Of course, this process will be quite painful for families that rely on earned income and child tax credits to catch up on bills and/or to generally survive. These tax returns are expected to be delayed until February 15 at the earliest.
1.2 million tax returns were delayed last year for an average of 30 days, even though they were all perfectly legitimate. However, the IRS argues that this process is justified, as indicated by the $8.9 billion lost in 2013 and 2014 due to fraud. These delays have reportedly already saved more than $47 billion in fraudulent payments.
Businesses and organizations frequently report being hit by a heavy wave of social engineering and phishing attempts during tax season, with W-2s being the target of interest in payroll records. These attacks usually originate via email, and have been appropriately nicknamed Business Email Correspondence (BEC) attacks. These attacks take advantage of the trust relationships between different employees within the company, masquerading as an administrative employee to gain access to sensitive and confidential employee records via email.
“These increased security screenings are invisible to most taxpayers, but we want people to be aware we are taking additional steps to protect taxpayers from identity theft, and that sometimes means the real taxpayers face a slight delay in their refunds,” the IRS website stated.