According to a report published by the UK’s Daily Mail, as reported by CNET News, the IRS improperly used computer software to track the online activities of American taxpayers. The MSP programme, which was used from 2003 to 2005, allowed the agency to collect details including names, addresses, social security numbers and other personal information. Something an MSP training course could be used to implement.
The program was called Eadoo, short for Extended Analytics Data Explorer. The software was provided by TJX Companies, which is comprised of several companies that service thousands of small businesses in the United States and abroad.
The program was initially created to help the agency monitor the activities of taxpayers who had reached a certain income level. Because of the risk taxpayers had to be required to fill out an online form each time they received a tax bill. The information was then entered into a database and analyzed by the IRS in order to determine if there were any potential causes for concern.
The program was then shut down in 2005 after it was revealed that some taxpayers were receiving IRS notices about their unpaid taxes. The information was sometimes provided to them by other taxpayers who had received similar notices from the agency.
Since then, the IRS has been working to implement new guidelines to control the use of such programs by agencies. In July 2009, the agency published a document which stated that while it recognizes the private nature of many of these programs, it nevertheless has “important purposes” and “the protection of sensitive information is [the] IRS ‘most important mission’. Therefore, while some taxpayers may be happy to enter into a written agreement to share their information with other entities for audit or other purposes, it is worth noting that the IRS will not accept any forms of payment in exchange for services or information.
The agency also warns that while it will accept credit card information as long as it is transmitted via a secure server, it will never accept via email, even if the IRS asks for it.
These latest developments come after several years in which the IRS was involved in a number of high-profile cases of identity theft. In 2007, the agency uncovered a scam in which taxpayers were sent emails saying that they had claimed and were enrolled for EITAs. Though many of these letters were fraudulent, the agency was able to track down the author, who was a California resident, and issue warnings about him.
In another case, the IRS was involved in a scam where taxpayers were sent fake notifications that their payment had been sent into the EITP Fund and their account had been opened up. This occurred even though they had not yet received their refund.
lamb adds that the agency is not alone in its fight against identity theft. Many other countries are putting more emphasis on stopping the practice of sending fake documents in hopes of catching out taxpayers. Many countries in Europe and in some cases in the United States are going after taxpayers on a wide variety of charges, from tax evasion to impersonating government officers.
As these cases reveal, taxpayers can often be an easy target for identity thieves. So if you want to avoid becoming a victim, do not become a victim. Better use the services of a reputable escrow company for your online payments. Better still, if you have a business, be aware of the various measures that your employees should be taking in order to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening.
One of the more prominent services that helps with all this is called Nevervier. Through Nevervier, the IRS and other agencies can send you alerts about potential fraud whenever you check into a financial deal or claim your tax refund.
If you ever think that maybe you have received a hoax email, call the authorities immediately. In addition, never give out your personal information in an email that someone claims to be from the IRS. While they may be trying to be helpful, don’t let them put you at risk. Call the IRS and be theirguiding star. They will never send you emails about tax refunds.
Nevervier is also going to give you free, quick-to-use, unique and powerful identity theft protection services. Don’t settle for a lower price when it comes to putting your credit and real-time identity at risk.
Verify the person is who they say they are. Don’t believe emails that say they’re from the IRS because it simply does not exist. Find out who really is in charge of assigning computer passwords and operating security keys.
When you call a financial institution, never divulge personal information without first verifying their organization.
Watch out for phrases such as “as soon as” or “at the rate”. Don’t give out information about your credit card or bank account(s).
Ask them how they would know which computer in the bank they’re on. Aside from asking how often they use the computers, why do they need to know this information about their computer?