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Evette Davis: All right, I see it it's the top of the hour, but for those of you just joining us, welcome to today's webinar, Internal Revenue Service and Federal Trade Commission Presents: Scams, Tax Related Identity Theft and Identity Protection PIN. We're so glad you're joining us today. My name is Evette Davis, and I am a Senior Stakeholder Liaison with the Internal Revenue Service and I will be your moderator for today's webinar which is slated for 60 minutes. Before we begin, if there's anyone in the audience that's with the media, please send an email to the address on this slide. Be sure to include your contact information as well as the news publication with. Our Media Relations and Stakeholder Liaison Staff will assist you and answer any questions you may have. As a reminder, this webinar will be recorded and posted to the IRS Video Portal in just a few weeks. This portal is located at Please note that continuing education credits or certificates of completion are not offered for this webinar. We hope you won't experience any technology issues, but if you do, this slide shows helpful tips and reminders. We've posted a technical help document you can download from the Materials section on the left side of your screen. It provides the minimum system requirements for viewing this webinar along with some best practices and quick solutions. Now, if you completed and passed your system check and you are still having problems, try one of the following. The first option is to close the screen where you're viewing the webinar and simply relaunch it. The second option is to click on settings on your browser viewing screen and select HLS. You should have received today's PowerPoint in a reminder email, but if not, no worries, you can download it by clicking on the Materials dropdown arrow, again, down on the left side of your screen as shown on this slide. Closed captioning is available for today's presentation. So if you're having trouble hearing the audio through your computer speakers, please click the Closed Captioning dropdown arrow located on the left side of your screen. This feature will be available throughout the webinar. If you have a topic-specific question today, and we hope you do, please submit them by clicking the Ask Question dropdown arrow to reveal the text box. In the text box, type your question and then click Send. Now this part is very important folks, we want your questions, but please do not enter any sensitive or taxpayer-specific information. Again, welcome and thank you so much for joining us today for this webinar. Before we move along with our session, let's make sure you're in the right place. Today's webinar is Internal Revenue Service and Federal Trade Commission Presents: Scams, Tax Related Identity Theft and Identity Protection PIN. This webinar is scheduled for approximately 60 minutes. Let me introduce our first speaker. I am so excited to introduce Ms. Kelle Slaughter. Kelle Slaughter is the Identity Theft Program Manager for the Federal Trade Commission or FTC as you're probably familiar with. She is responsible for creating and implementing the agency's coordinated strategy to combat, investigate and help consumers avoid and recover from various forms of identity theft. Not only does she have over 17 years of consumer protection experience, Kelle brings a great sense of humor and authentic truth-telling to the table. I'm so excited to hear what she has to say. So over to you, Kelle. Kelle Slaughter: Thank you, Evette. Hello and thank you for tuning in today to talk about identity theft. Identity theft happens when a thief uses someone's personal or financial information without their permission. That means thieves may be illegally borrowing money, filing taxes or getting credit in someone else's name. The consequences of identity theft can be serious, including financial loss, reputational damage as well as emotional and psychological harm. People report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. In 2021 we received 1.4 million identity theft reports.

And we've recognized that only a fraction of the people who experience identity theft actually report it. The takeaway here is that identity theft is a big problem for people in the United States. An interesting picture of identity theft emerges when we look at reports by age. This chart shows that identity theft is universal, but it also affects age groups differently. There is often a focus on older adults as targets of fraud and identity theft. But here, you can see that folks of all ages are affected, not just older people. Take a look for example at the bars at the top of the screen showing 30- and 39 year-olds. Down at the bottom of the chart you will see how the reports broke down last year among various age groups. It may not be surprising to you that over the years, unauthorized credit or debit card use has been the top type of identity theft of all identity theft reports with the exception of 2020 and 2021. Credit card fraud actually landed in the number two spot due to an uptick in reports of Government Benefits Fraud.

That surge had a great deal to do with imposters filing unemployment benefits claims using stolen identities. That scam peaked in 2020 as scammers set their sights on the billions of dollars in federal funds meant to help people in financial distress and reports remained high as many of the federal relief programs continued into the first quarter of 2021. But so far, during the first half of 2022, credit card fraud has reclaimed its number one position. Based on reports to the Federal Trade Commission, one of the more common ways that people may have their identity stolen is by a way of imposter scams. In fact, imposter scams have remained the most common type of fraud reported to FTC. In 2021, we received almost 1 million reports about imposter scammers, fake government agents, pretend grandkids, bogus sweethearts and others who took almost $2.3 billion from people across the country. So far this year, imposter scams are still the most reported fraud. Scammers change their stories to catch you off-guard. So as we talk about a couple of common imposter scams today, remember that scammers may use a different method to get to you. And sometimes the method of initial contact is not the red flag, it's the details that follow. For example, I bet almost everyone in this virtual room has encountered an IRS or a Social Security Administration Government Imposter Scam Call. That's when a scammer calls, pretending to be with a government agency to get personal information or money. They might give you their employee ID to sound all official, and they might have information about you like your name or your home address. Sometimes, they even claim that you have lottery winnings that you need to pay taxes or other fees. They might even threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit if you don't pay a supposed debt. Here is the bottom line. Government agencies won't call, email or text asking for money or personal information or making threats if you don't pay or share your personal information. Only a scammer would do that. The federal government simply won't and can't take a payment by gift card or wire transfer or cryptocurrency. And the federal government will never ask for credit card number over the phone. So if someone calls saying they're from the government and they ask for credit card numbers, that's a red flag. The government will also never call to threaten deportation, loss of license or arrest. And the IRS just does not initiate contact via email. When the government calls asking you for money or personal information, the best thing you can do is hang up immediately. Your caller ID might even show the government agency's real phone number and even say Social Security Administration, for example.

But caller ID can be faked. It could be anyone calling from anywhere in the world. So don't trust your caller ID. If you think a call or a message could be real, stop, hang up the phone and call the government agency directly at the number you know to be correct. Don't call the number that they give you on the voicemail or the one on the caller ID. Instead, type the agency name into your search engine and click on their webpage to find their contact information. And never give your financial or other personal information to someone who calls, texts or emails saying they're with the government. Don't wire money or use gift cards or cryptocurrency to pay someone who says they're with the government and never pay cash. Once you pay in one of these ways it's almost impossible to get your money back. Essentially, a scammer would take the money and disappear. Whether you paid money or not, please report these calls, texts and emails to the Federal Trade Commission at Scammers not only pretend to be the government, they often pretend to be companies that offer employment. So be aware of that while you're looking for a job, the scammers are looking for you. Scammers advertise jobs and business opportunities online in ads, on job sites and social media, they make the job look attractive by promising high earnings with little work and tell you that you can start your own business easily and make money right away. Ultimately, they want your money and your personal information. I recently spoke with a lady who encountered in an employment scam. During the pandemic, she had lost her job and posted her resume on multiple websites to seek new employment. She got a call from someone who said they were from an employment agency that recruits new hires for a very popular multinational tech company. They initiated the interview on the first call. After speaking with them for over an hour, the interviewer told her she needed to complete a job application, that they would email to her and return it to them with a copy of her driver's license, Social Security Card and COVID vaccine card that same day in order to move to the next interview. She did exactly what they said. The scammer called her back and said she was hired based on her application. She didn't even need the second interview. To get started, they sent her a check to buy supplies from their vendor. They explained that due to shipping issues, she would get the supplies quicker if she ordered them instead of the company doing it for her. So her to send the money to. She later learned the check was fake and so was the job. She not only when she received the check, she deposited it and paid for the supplies from the vendor they told lost $1,500 of her own money, she also lost her peace of mind, because the scammers have her personal information. There are several key takeaways here. One, if a company ask for sensitive information like your Social Security Number before they hire you, or they say they need you to make an upfront payment, it may be a scam. Two, if you feel pressured to share your personal sensitive information before being hired, stop. That's a red flag. And three, often scammers will send a check to buy supplies or other equipment for more than the amount needed and they tell you to send the leftover money back to the company in a form of a gift card or wire transfer or they may ask you to send the money to someone else such as a vendor for supplies.

Don't do it. It may be a scam. The check will bounce. So the money that you send is actually your own money and then it's gone. If you send money to a scammer posing as an employer, contact the financial institution that you used to send the money and tell them that it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible. Whether you lost money or not, be sure to report the scam to FTC at We want to hear about it and we share that information with the other law enforcement agencies investigating these matters. If you believe that you shared your personal sensitive information with a scammer, be sure to go to for your personalized identity theft recovery plan which you'll learn about in a little bit more in few minutes. Fortunately, there are some ways to protect yourself against many of the methods scammers and identity thieves use to get your information. You're probably doing a lot of these already, but if not, they are easy changes to make in order to protect yourselves. Don't carry your Social Security Card in your wallet. Keep it somewhere safe at home. Shred anything that has your account numbers or your Social Security Number on it before you throw it away. Remember what we just talked about with government imposters? Well, it applies really to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Just don't share your account or Social Security Numbers with anyone who calls you or contacts you. Keep personal information in a secure place in your home, especially if you have roommates, overnight guests, you're having your house worked on, consider a lock box. Get your mail as soon as you can. You're going to watch out for unexplained bills or bills that might be missing. And keep an eye, a close eye on all accounts and financial statements. That is one of the best ways to discover credit card fraud and spot those charges for things you didn't buy. Then it's a great idea to watch your credit reports at all three national credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can get your credit report every year for free from And through December 2022, you can actually get it for free every week, you should review each one of them to be sure that the information is correct, because sometimes that can carry information that differs from the other. You want to dispute any errors that you find on your credit report. Any of those errors could simply be a mistake, but they also could be a warning sign of identity theft. And we'll talk about this a little bit more in a moment, you might also consider a credit freeze, which may help you to stop thieves cold. Online, there is a few extra steps that you may want to take to protect your information. For starters, use strong passwords. Your mom's maiden name, your kids' birthday, last four digits of Social Security Number are not strong passwords.

Definitely want to use the combination of numbers, letters, upper and lowercase letters and symbols to create your password and do not use the same password for different accounts. Where and when it's an option, use multifactor authentication particularly for your financial accounts, email and social media accounts. When you sign up for multifactor authentication, that means that companies will require something in addition to your password, maybe a passcode that's sent to you through an app or a scan of your face or something else. That way, if a hacker gets a hold of your password somehow, they can't get into your account with the password alone.

Keep your antivirus software up-to-date. In fact, if you can, set it to update automatically, because you want it updated as soon as a newer version comes out so you'll have those critical patches and protections against security threats. The same goes for your operating system. Be sure to have the latest version. Then never click on links, emails, texts or social media messages.

If you wonder about it, type it into a website that you know, not the one you are sent in a message. And then if you're shopping online paying for something or sharing sensitive information online, look for the lock in the URL bar, as well as a URL that starts with HTTPS.

That means your transaction is encrypted. Remember though, that if a site is encrypted, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's on the up and up, sketchy sites can use encrypted for information as well. Now I mentioned to you a little bit about a credit freeze earlier. Fraud alerts and credit freezes can be used to help you to avoid and recover from identity theft. They sound alike, but they work in different ways. A fraud alert tells businesses to check with you before opening a new account in your name. That usually means is they'll call you first to make sure that the person trying to open a new account is really you. Unlike a credit freeze, a fraud alert does not limit access to your credit report. So to place a fraud alert, you want to contact one of the three national credit bureaus. That one bureau must notify the other two. A fraud alert is free and lasts one year, and you could renew it. If you've experienced identity theft, you can get an extended fraud alert that lasts for seven years. Then there's a credit freeze. A credit freeze is the best way to protect against an identity thief opening new accounts in your name. Usually a credit freeze means potential creditors cannot access your credit report. And because creditors usually won't give credit if they can't check your credit report that means the freeze blocks identity thieves who might be trying to open accounts in your name. It's free to place with each of the three credit bureaus, it's free to remove it, and it does not expire. You can place a credit freeze even if you have not experienced identity theft. You can even do this for your kids and incapacitated adults. Don't let the freeze part worry you. A credit freeze would not affect your credit score or your ability to use your existing credit cards, to apply for a job, rent an apartment or buy insurance, whatever you're doing. If you need to apply for new credit, you can simply lift the freeze temporarily to let the creditor check your credit.

That's free, but you'll also have to contact whichever credit bureau that needs to lift it, contact them back to put it back in place once you've done applying for your credit. Your personal situation will determine which one would be just right for you or you may want to think about a credit freeze if your Social Security Number or other information has been exposed in a data breach. Find contact information for the credit bureaus at Your personal situation will determine which of these is right for you, but you may want to think about a credit freeze if your Social Security number or other information has been exposed in a data breach or misused by an identity thief. And for everyone else, a credit freeze might just give you extra peace of mind. Sometimes, even when we take quality steps to reduce the risk of identity theft, it can still happen. The FTC's website, is here to help you to report and recover. is the government's one-stop shop that offers recovery plans for more than 30 types of identity theft. is an interactive website available in both English and Spanish. That gives you a plan for resolving your identity theft issues along with step-by-step guidance for carrying out that plan. It's really easy to report. You simply follow the prompts, you enter details of how your identity was stolen or misused, and then the site uses that information to create the customized tools you need in order to recover. As you see here by the end of six quick steps, you will have created your identity theft report, your IRS Form 14039, and then you will get your personalized recovery plan. Here's an example of an FTC identity theft report, an important piece of your recovery. This is a sworn statement that you can use in place of the police report in most cases to clear your credit records of transactions that resulted from the identity theft. FTC makes identity theft reports available to law enforcement agencies investigating identity theft crimes. also streamlines the reporting process if you experience tax identity theft. Thanks to the joint initiative between FTC and IRS, you can use to report tax identity theft directly to the IRS. In fact, it is the only way to file an IRS identity theft affidavit online. And more importantly, submitting the affidavit to the IRS electronically ensures that it gets to the IRS quickly and securely, therefore it speeds the process up for IRS to get started resolving your tax identity theft case. After you have your identity theft report and submit your IRS identity theft affidavit electronically, you can also get a recovery plan with step-by-step instructions for carrying out the plan. Each of these lines accordion out to offer detailed advice about how to carry out each step, including links to the credit bureau and others that you may need to contact. Your personalized recovery plan comes with a checklist and follow-up reminders, as well as prefilled letters and forms that you'll need to file. As you can see on the right-hand side of the screen, the system reminds you that you submitted your IRS identity theft affidavit and it gives you the date that it was submitted. You can create a secure, personal account so that you can return to the website at any time to update your plan, track your recovery progress and get customized letters that you could send to the credit agencies, debt collectors and businesses to help resolve your identity theft issues. Of course, you can get a recovery plan without an account, but you can get the full benefit of the website when you do create an account. To learn more about how identity theft and all other scams you might run across, visit and please share this website with others. You can find everything you need from romance scams and business opportunity fraud to getting to your free credit reports and how to block those unwanted calls. And to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest scams and what FTC is doing, please consider signing up for consumer alerts. You'll get a couple of blog posts per week sent directly to your inbox so you can be in the know and you can share what you've learned with others, signup at Thank you, again. Back to you, Evette. Evette Davis: Wow. Kelle, thank you. Thank you so much for that great, great information. Those tips folks, Hopefully you're taking some notes. And I know you've got some great questions coming in already. Excellent presentation on identity theft, so thanks again, Kelle. Now folks let me introduce our next speakers for the second half of our presentation. Anika Pompey and Michael Smith are both Senior Stakeholder Liaisons in our Communications & Liaison Division. Join us in welcoming Anika and Mike to the IRS webinar team.

Whoo! Whoo! We are so glad to have you join us. Mike is going to get us started. Mike, the next part of it is all yours, my friend. Michael Smith: Great. Thank you, Evette. I'd like to pick up on Kelle's remarks and speak for a few minutes on scams and fraud, specifically related to tax administration. Fighting fraud is a continuous activity for the IRS, primarily because scammers evolve as technology evolves. We focus on prevention and we're constantly working with our partners to provide information that helps taxpayers recognize and avoid those scams. So let's dive in and get started. Tax related identity theft started out as a petty crime, perpetrated by unorganized criminals and dishonest return preparers. But it's evolved into a major enterprise funded by highly technical national and international crime syndicates. As the IRS sees thousands of fraudulent tax scams each year, and the scams tend to rise during the tax season and times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. But one thing the IRS does to alert taxpayers is publish this annual list that we call the Dirty Dozen. Everyone can view the list on by searching Dirty Dozen, and on this slide, you can see a few of these scams listed. First up we have Email, Phishing and Malware Schemes. Watch out for fake emails that look like official communications from the IRS or other tax agencies. These emails are often phishing schemes designed to trick the reader into providing their login credentials or your bank account numbers and passwords. Don't click on the links in these emails. If you do, you're often taken to sites designed to imitate official looking websites, but the goal is to obtain your personal information, your Social Security Number or date of birth, et cetera, which could then be used to file false tax returns or access your financial accounts. Then we also see Fake Charities.

Criminals frequently exploit natural disasters and other situations like this current pandemic.

They set up fake charities that trick people into making donations or provide their personal financial information. Threatening phone calls are another one to watch out for. Scammers regularly call taxpayers and impersonate the IRS, especially around tax season. They claim to be IRS employees, they use aggressive tactics, threats, trying to trick people into paying fake IRS debts. And the callers could use fake IRS names, they use bogus IRS badge numbers, and they may already know some details about their targets, so the calls can appear legitimate. And then also they can alter their caller ID to make it look like it is really the IRS calling. Don't fall for it. Watch out for those scams that are very common. So let me give you two examples quickly.

Victims are often told they owe money to the IRS, and it must be paid immediately through a preloaded debit card or a wire transfer. Now the IRS doesn't accept payments on preloaded cards or wire transfers like we heard Kelle talk about it earlier. Now alternatively, victims may be told that they have a refund due. The caller will try to trick you into sharing your bank account number so that the refund can be sent to you. But the call is fake, the refund is fake, don't get tricked into providing your personal banking information. Remember, scammers change tactics constantly. Criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers so everyone should be alert to that. There's also a number of scams centered around refund theft.

Most refund theft comes from identity theft. Once data thieves obtain the taxpayers' data, they can simply use it to file false tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds. Everyone should also be aware that non-English speakers are often a target. IRS impersonators, other scammers target groups with limited English proficiency based on foreign sounding last names. They will threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have them arrested for not paying it. And then finally, we have bad return preparers. The dishonest preparers pop up every filing season, they promise inflated refunds by claiming fake tax credits like education credits or the earned income tax credit that taxpayers aren't really entitled to. The best thing to do is go to and search for return preparer directory for tips for choosing a qualified tax return preparer. Right now, I will talk about spotting phishing emails. More than 90% of all data thefts begin with an email phishing scam. And since phishing emails are one of the most common online threats, it's important to be aware of the signs and know what to do when you receive them. But here are some tips or strategic ways to spot phishing attacks. Number one, emails will arrive in your inbox that look authentic. It might match the style that's used by the company or an external business like a bank. But keep an eye out for emails requesting any type of personal information like your banking details or your login credentials. If you think that email isn't genuine, just stop. Don't click any links, don't provide any information, don't respond to it. Search online for the organization's information and contact them directly.

Second, phishing emails often come from fake addresses that appear to be legitimate. Scammers can mask email addresses or simply change one or two characters of the name of the company. So if you only glance at that sender's email address, it may look real. Well take a moment, hover over the address to examine it and that should tell you whether it's actually a legitimate source or not. Number three is an obvious one, phishing emails are often poorly written. If you receive an unexpected email from a company but it's riddled with mistakes that is clearly a strong indicator that the email may be a phishing email. Number four, be suspicious anytime an unexpected email has an attachment. Clicking that attachment could install malicious software on your PC or on your network. Even if you think the attachment is genuine, it's just good practice to scan it first using antivirus software. And fifth, most importantly, the messages in these phishing emails here often designed to make you panic. For example, the email claims that your account was compromised, you need to provide your username and password to verify your account immediately. This is a common tactic, and it works because you're more likely to respond quickly without thinking if the situation seems urgent. So again, if that happens, stop, think twice before responding, and if you are unsure, contact the company directly to see if it's a legitimate message. And then these are a few things that I'd like to discuss about the IRS, just things to know in general. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media. We initiate most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are going to be some special circumstances in which the IRS may call you or come to a home or business. For example, IRS revenue officers and revenue agents they do make in-person visits at taxpayers' homes or businesses. But in those situations, those taxpayers will generally have received several letters and notices from the IRS in the mail before they're contacted in-person. Also, the IRS won't threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have you arrested for you not paying it. The IRS can't revoke your driver's license, your business licenses or your immigration status. Threats like those they're simply common tricks used by scam artists to just trick their victims. Also the IRS will never ask you to make a payment using a prepaid gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer. And finally, the service will never call or email you asking for your user IDs and passwords. And now I am going to turn it over to my colleague, Anika to discuss some of the signs of tax related identity theft. Anika, it is all yours. Anika Pompey: Thanks, Mike. Now, Mike talked about some of the common ways a taxpayer's identity could be compromised. So what can scammers do with your name, address and your taxpayer identification number once they get it in respect to the IRS? The most common thing they do is try to electronically file a fraudulent refund return before you file your own return. Now, in most cases the legitimate owner of the Social Security Number will be unaware of a tax related identity theft until they electronically file their own return, and it rejects because the IRS already shows a return file for that Social Security Number. If you're unable to file electronically because someone else already filed under your taxpayer identification number, you'll need to mail your return to the IRS and attach Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit. The form is available on The IRS will place your case into the Identity Theft Victim Assistance Program, research and resolve the case, verify your identity and issue any legitimate refund as well as place you in the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number Program. We'll talk more on that later. Now, the IRS also identifies returns that could potentially be fraudulent returns. If the IRS believes a return is fraudulent and you could potentially be a victim of identity theft, we will send a letter advising that we have a questionable return with your identifying information on it. The letter will ask if the return is yours. If it is your return, we'll ask that you verify your identity by phone, online or in-person. The degree of risk determines the method you'll use to verify your identity. Upon verification, we'll release the legitimate tax refund. And if you advise us the return isn't yours, we'll clear out your tax account so that we'll be able to accept a paper return. In this case, there would be no need to file an identity theft affidavit. We already know you're a victim. Continuing here, you may receive a notice stating you owe additional tax or collection action may have been taken for a year that you didn't file a tax return. This is another sign of identity theft, and you should immediately respond using the contact information on the notice.

There are instances where fraudsters will use your Social Security Number with employers in order to obtain jobs, or they may apply for and receive taxable benefits like unemployment compensation from a government agency. The employer or agency reports the income or taxable benefits to the IRS. We compare it to your filed return and we send you a notice for additional taxes due because the income appears unreported. Again, you should immediately respond using the contact information on the notice. You should also notify the employer or agency that issued the information return and explain someone stole your identity and that you don't work for the employer or didn't apply for the tax benefits. Now, what can you do to protect yourself from scammers and identity thieves? Here is a couple of resources available in PDF format, you can download from Publication 4524 Security Awareness and Publication 5027, ID Theft Info for Taxpayers. These publications explain the steps that you can take to protect your identity and what to do if personal identifiable information is compromised. How should scams and theft of stimulus payments or tax refunds be reported? Scams related to COVID and the stimulus payments should be reported to the National Center of Disaster Fraud. If a taxpayer experiences a theft on the stimulus payment or tax refund either by direct theft or due to a scam such as an IRS imposter by phone, they should contact the Treasury Department's Inspector General Office. If someone receives an email from anyone including IRS imposters asking for personal information such as the Social Security Number, banking information and birth date with respect to the stimulus payments or any other ploy, the message should be forwarded to Also as Kelle advised, if you're a victim of identity theft, you can use the Federal Trade Commission's one-stop resource for identity theft reporting and recovery at Okay. So we've talked a bit about what scammers can do with your taxpayers' personal identifiable information. How can taxpayers prevent scammers from filing false refund returns with stolen information? Remember, I spoke a few minutes ago about something called the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number? Well, for the last 10 years or so, the IRS has provided Identity Protection PIN, IP PIN, for short, to taxpayers who experienced tax related identity theft so they could securely file their future returns. IP PINs are six digit numbers that were assigned to taxpayers, must be used to accomplish the electronic filing of their tax returns and subject paper filed returns to greater scrutiny to ensure their integrity. So if a fraudster obtains a taxpayers' personally identifiable information like their Social Security Number and attempts to electronically or paper file a return to get a fraudulent refund, then the return will reject, and the taxpayer will be able to file electronically or by paper with no processing problems.

Effective January 2021, the service is now allowing taxpayers nationwide to opt into the IP PIN program and we hope that you will. The IP PIN is known only to the taxpayer who can provide it to their tax preparer and the IRS. It changes every year. Each January, the taxpayer gets a new IP PIN valid for the calendar year. The taxpayer or their trusted tax preparer simply enters the six-digit number when prompted by the tax preparation software or on the signature line for a paper return. Taxpayers can apply for an IP PIN on, going through a rigorous online identity verification process we call Secure Access. Please, and this is very important, taxpayers should not share their IP PIN with anyone but their trusted tax preparer. No one will call, email or text, certainly not the IRS, to request a taxpayers' IP PIN. Thieves try very hard to get taxpayers' IP PINs so taxpayers must keep them secure. If the taxpayer opts into the IP PIN program through the online tool, they must return to beginning January each year to get a new IP PIN for filing in the current calendar year. So if a taxpayer forgets or loses their IP PIN, they can always use the online tool to recover it. If the IP PIN is obtained by paper application, the taxpayer will be mailed a new IP PIN around December to use in the next calendar year. So in this scenario, the taxpayers should remember to update their addresses with the IRS if they move using Form 8822. Check out IRS Publication 5367 and 5477 for more information on how you can register to receive an IRS Identity Protection PIN. Back to Mike to talk about Questionable Return Preparers. Michael Smith: Great, thanks Anika. Yeah, as I mentioned earlier, the IRS receives reports of Dishonest or Questionable Return Preparers every single year.

Sometimes these are simply tax preparers who don't understand taxes, but we also see preparers who mislead people into taking credits or deductions that they are not entitled. And some that commit outright fraud and identity theft. That's why bad return preparers were on the IRS Dirty Dozen list in 2022. The slide here shows some indications that tax return preparer may not be honest or legitimate. One thing to remember is that all return preparers are legally required to register with the IRS for a Preparer Tax Identification Number we call that a PTIN, a very common term in the tax world. They are required to include their PTIN and sign the returns that they prepare as the paid preparer. When you're choosing a tax preparer, ask if they'll be signing the tax return as the preparer and ask for proof of their PTIN. If they won't sign the tax return as the paid preparer or won't provide their PTIN, they may be someone who we call a ghost preparer, someone who is not following the rules. Here are some additional indicators to watch out for. Remember, not signing a return is always a red flag. Just stop when you see that. You can go to and search, How to Choose a Return Preparer, and there you'll find tips and tools that will help you select the good return preparer. You can report a questionable preparer to the IRS, and you'll do that by using Form 14157, Tax Return Preparer Complaint. Now. Here we see a tip sheet. This was released by the National Cybersecurity Alliance and the Internal Revenue Service. And it warns individuals to be skeptical of any phone calls, emails or text claiming to be from the IRS. The four pages explain how to keep your data secure while you're online, how to recognize fake IRS communications and also how to choose a good tax preparer. And other resources that provide tips for taxpayers to protect themselves from identity theft. All right, back to you, Anika. Anika Pompey: Thanks, Mike. Because this is so important, I would like to reiterate Kelle's tip for preventing online identity theft. First, don't respond to emails that ask for your personal or financial information or click on links within these emails. Next, you should always use reputable and up-to-date antivirus or anti-spyware software and use the latest version of the web browser. Also, change your passwords often and keep them safe, select tough security questions to verify accounts. And be sure to backup critical personal information on external media. Limit the amount of personal information you make available when using social networks. Nothing is more enticing to a thief than knowing you will be going on vacation out of state with your family for a few weeks. Ensure the appropriate privacy settings to help prevent social engineering. Visit, and for great information on protecting yourself against identity theft. To conclude, I would like everyone to know that we here at the IRS take the issue of identity theft very seriously. Not only to protect the revenue but to protect the taxpaying public as well. At the outset, I mentioned that the IRS works with partners to develop identity protection strategies and technologies to prevent refund fraud. This partnership, called the security summit, consists of the IRS and more than 60 state tax agencies and the tax community, including tax preparation firms, software developers, payroll and tax financial product processes, tax professional organizations and financial institutions. The efforts of the security summit resulted in an 80% drop in reported cases of tax related identity theft over the last four years, and over $28 billion in fraudulent refunds stopped or recovered by partners. And for more resources, guidance and information, go to Identity Theft Central at So, for everyone attending today, I hope that this information was helpful and that you'll have a better idea of the schemes and scams used by criminals to engage in tax related fraud and that you have an idea of what to do if it happens to you. Evette, that concludes our presentation. Over to you. Evette Davis: Thanks, Anika and thanks also to Mike and to Kelle. Well great, great information and great tips. Hopefully, you grabbed that information. Hello everybody, it's me, Evette Davis and I'll be moderating the Q&A session. Before we get started with a Q&A session, I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for attending today's presentation on scams, tax related identity theft and Identity Protection PIN presented in partnership with Federal Trade Commission and the IRS. Earlier, I mentioned we want to know what questions you have for our presenters, and for those of you who've already entered your questions, thank you so much. For those who have not, this is your opportunity. If you haven't input your questions, we still have a little bit of time. So go ahead and click on the dropdown arrow next to Ask Question. Type in your question and click Send.

Kelle, Anika and Mike are staying on with us to answer your questions. So, thank you. One more thing before we start, now we may not have time to answer all the questions submitted, however let me assure you we will get to as many as time allows. So, let's go ahead and get started so we can answer as many questions as possible. And Kelle, I'm going to start with you to give Mike and Anika a moment to kind of catch their breath from presenting. So, this particular person asks, When identity theft has been reported to the Federal Trade Commission, will the organization report it to the local authorities or is that up to the individual to do so? Kelle.

Kelle Slaughter: That is a very good question. Thank you for asking. When individuals report at as well as when they report to, your reports are made available to local, state and federal law enforcement through a consumer internal network. They will have access to that report. Thank you. Evette Davis: Wow, that's great information, Kelle.

Thank you so much. And I was just going to stick with you just for one more moment. Does freezing your credit, lower your credit score? I heard that question before, and it says, additionally for how long should you have your credit frozen so that it doesn't affect your credit report? Kelle Slaughter: That's a great question too. I've heard this before. A lot of concerns about that credit score being impacted by either a fraud alert or a credit freeze.

Neither of these preventative measures impact your credit score. They simply let businesses know there is a fraud alert. The businesses must take an extra step before opening an account for you, when you go to open an account. Or even when they try to open an account, they reach out to you to verify that it actually is you. That's what a fraud alert does. It does not stop you from opening one, it doesn't stop you from receiving the credit on those good ones that you have open already. With a credit freeze, you're simply locking your credit report so that nobody else can open up an account on the credit report. That means that you're still receiving credit for what you're doing and the good point is that only you can open any new accounts. You just have to take an extra step to do it. It does not impact the score at all. Evette Davis: Awesome, awesome, awesome. Okay, great. Thank you, Kelle. Thanks folks, for those great questions. Let's move over to you, Mike. Mike, are you there? Can you hear me? Michael Smith: I'm here, Evette. Evette Davis: Awesome, okay. So just to take a look at the question is, what do I do if I forgot my IP PIN?

Michael Smith: Sure, no problem. Anyhow, great question, because that is a very common scenario.

A lot of times we might get the IP PIN early in the year but you don't actually use it until early in the following year when you got to prepare your taxes. So, if that happens to you, if you lose your IP PIN, I think Anika had mentioned it, so it should be in the presentation material as well. But you can go to, and the quickest way is searching for the term, IP PIN, and it will take you to our Get an IP PIN tool. And once you're there, you'll go through some identity verification, and afterwards, you'll just be able to retrieve your IP PIN through that tool. And if for some reason the identity verification doesn't work through that tool, it will provide a phone number where you can call IRS to assist you and then you can get your IP PIN through them, but that's secondary option. Evette Davis: Yeah, okay. Good stuff, Mike. Thanks so very much. And if you don't mind, I'm going to stick with you and then I'll go over to Anika.

So, this question is, I have received a scam email should I report them to the IRS. Michael Smith: Yeah, another good question. Short answer, yes. Absolutely. Please do report those to us.

If the emails mentioned your federal tax return or a federal income tax refund, anything IRS related you can simply forward your email to us, and you would do that to And we always appreciate when taxpayers report those scams. We do have a page on dedicated strictly to Report Phishing and Online Scams. You know if you want more information and more details about different types of scams and who you might report those to, go to, search for the term, phishing, and there is a lot more information there.

Evette Davis: Yeah. Great information. Great information, Mike. Thank you so much. And folks just as a reminder, you will be receiving this afternoon some tips to help you avoid theft and scams.

For example, you heard about these publications throughout the presentation. You're going to getting information on Publication 4524, Publication 5027, Publication 5477 as well as Publication 5367. All of these publications were referenced during this presentation. So, you're going to have that information this afternoon as a point of reference so that they can kind of help you along with making sure you have the information you need relative to identity theft.

Okay. All right. So, Anika, coming over to you. Can you hear me? Anika Pompey: I can hear you.

Evette Davis: Awesome. And so, this person says, I think someone filed a return using my name and Social Security Number, can I get a copy of that return? Anika Pompey: That's an excellent question, Evette. And, yes, you can request a copy of that return. You have to complete the Form 4506-F, Request for a Copy of a Fraudulent Tax Return to get a copy of that fraudulent return. The form is on the IRS website. So, you can search Form 4506-F. And once you find that form you complete the form and either mail it to the IRS or fax it to it. But don't do both, because we don't want it to be delayed. But it could take up to 90 days to receive a transcript of that fraudulent return. I just want to make you aware of that. Evette Davis: Right. Yeah. Thanks, Anika. You're right and that is a great question. And you know we've probably all heard that one before. So yeah, please don't do both. One or the other. All right, Anika, I'm going to stick with you and ask another question on behalf of our attendees. How do I report a suspicious text message that says it is from the IRS? Anika Pompey: You know what that is another excellent question, Evette. So first off, do not reply. Also, do not open any attachments or click on any links. Because this of course might contain malicious code that could infect your computer or your phone. And we want you to forward the entire text to us at (202) 552-1226 and make sure you include the phone number that it was sent from. You know once we get that information, we will look into it. Evette Davis: Great, great, great information. And yeah that's always a scary scenario. Thanks so much, Anika. Okay. All right, Kelle, I'm coming back to you. Are you with me? Kelle Slaughter: Yes, I am. Evette Davis: Awesome. Okay, so this person asks isn't it a good idea to have a lock on your mailbox? I haven't heard this question before. But what say you? Kelle Slaughter: Well, it's absolutely a great idea to have a lock on your mailbox if you can. It makes it more difficult for a thief to access your mail. But if you cannot have one or you do not have a mailbox that locks, you may want to consider signing up for email statements for all of your financial accounts.

Evette Davis: That's good. I'm learning so much just listening to you all and looking at all these questions. One more question for you, Kelle. Is it free to both freeze and unfreeze your credit? Like a follow-up to one of the questions we asked you before. Kelle Slaughter: Yes, yes.

Thank you. It is free to sign up, and it is free to remove a credit freeze or fraud alert, whichever one you choose for you. Evette Davis: Okay. I'm sorry, Kelle, one last question. Will a person still be able to get an online report at, when a credit freeze is placed on their accounts? Kelle Slaughter: Yes. A credit freeze or a fraud alert does not prevent you from being able to access your credit report in order to review it. And again, we highly encourage you to review it every year when you can get that free report. Right now, as a reminder, you can get it every week for free. Review the reports from the three credit bureaus and make sure that everything is correct. Evette Davis: Wow. This is great stuff. Thank you so much, Kelle. Thank you so much, Mike. Thank you, Anika. Okay, audience I'm so sorry. That is all the time we have for questions. I do want to thank Kelle and Anika and Mike once again for sharing their knowledge and expertise and for answering all of your wonderful questions. But before we close the Q&A session, Kelle, what key points do you want attendees to remember from today's webinar? Kelle Slaughter: Okay. Please remember that scammers will contact you out of the blue using tactics to gain your trust. They will use words to trigger your emotional response, urgency for you to act and give them money or share your personal information. They will ask you to use unconventional payment methods such as gift cards, wire transfers and cryptocurrency. Look out for those red flags to help you avoid their traps. Protect your money and your personal information by going to the source to verify who you're talking to or who you're receiving a call from. And then use safe practices online and when you're offline.

Consider that credit freeze we've talked so much about today for you and your loved ones whether you experience identity theft or not. And then, be sure to go to for your Personalized Recovery Plan if somebody does use your information without your permission. Thank you, again. Evette Davis: Thanks, Kelle. Okay, Mike, Anika, what about you guys? What key points do you have for our attendees today? Michael Smith: Sure. Thanks, Evette. A couple of quick things I'd like to mention in closing. Just to remind everyone about the annual list of the top Dirty Dozen tax scams. Tax professionals and preparers, I recommend everyone to read that Dirty Dozen list each year, a quick, easy way to stay aware of the most common scams. And stay skeptical of those emails, text messages or social media messages and anybody claiming to be an IRS employee.

IRS employees they will communicate with you over the phone and sometimes they do through email, but we won't initiate contact using those methods. And if you do receive a scam email or you or your client are the victim of tax related identity theft, please do report it. At the IRS, we view tax professionals as partners and we need you to report those scams when they happen. And then finally, I want to encourage everyone to obtain an IP PIN, do not share it. Keep it secure.

It's the best way an individual can protect their tax account. Well with that, I will hand it over to you, Anika. Anika Pompey: Thanks, Mike. Really quickly I just want to share a few more key points. First, know the signs of dishonest return preparers. Avoid preparers that are going to guarantee refunds or charge a fee based on the size of your refund. And always make sure that your return preparer signs your return and provides a preparer identification number. Second, we want you all to visit and you can learn more about the awareness campaigns, news events and announcements. And there is some really great information there. And then lastly, the IRS has many publications available that will help you stay safe when filing your return. The publications that I listed on this current slide are available on in PDF format. So that is all we have. Back over to you. Evette Davis: Awesome. Thank you, Mike.

Thank you, Anika and thank you also, Kelle. Okay, audience we are planning additional webinars throughout the year. To register for all upcoming webinars please visit Use keyword search, Webinars, and then select, Webinars for Tax Practitioners, or, Webinars for Small Businesses. And then when appropriate, we will be offering certificates and CE credit for upcoming webinars. We invite you to visit our video portal at There you can view archived versions of our webinars. Now, remember, continuing education credits or certificates of completion are not offered if you view an archived version of any of our webinars on the IRS video portal. Again, a very big thank you to our Federal Trade Commissioner Partner, Kelle Slaughter and to Anika Pompey and Michael Smith for a great webinar and thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us and for staying on to answer the questions. I also want to thank you, our attendees for attending today's webinar, Internal Revenue Service and Federal Trade Commission presents: Scams, Tax Related Identity Theft and Identity Protection PIN. We would appreciate it if you take just a few minutes to complete a short survey before you exit. If you'd like to have more sessions like this one, let us know. If you have thoughts on how we can make them better, please let us know that as well. If you have requests for future webinar topics or pertinent information you'd like to see in some type of IRS Fact Sheet, a Tax Tip or as an FAQ on, let us know that as well, include those suggestions in the comments section. Click the Survey button on the screen to begin. If it doesn't come up, make sure you disable your pop-up blocker. It's been such a pleasure to be here with you and on behalf of the IRS and our presenters, we want to thank you for attending today's webinar. It's so important for us to stay connected with you tax professionals, the communities that we serve, the individual taxpayers, industry organizations along with Federal, State and Local government organizations.

You all make our jobs a lot easier by sharing this information that allows for proper tax reporting. Thanks again for taking time out of your day to attend the webinar. We hope you found the information helpful. You may exit the webinar at this time.