Despite Fear of Fraud, Taxpayers Are Not Victims

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Despite cyber-criminals crafting sophisticated phishing campaigns specifically to fool end users during tax season, the vast majority of taxpayers have never been victim of tax fraud or tax identity theft, according to a new report from Shred-it.

In fact, the report found that 91% of respondents have never been a victim of tax fraud, and only one in four reported that they personally know someone who has been. Still, 38% fear that they could be a victim of tax season fraud or identity theft.

The Tax Season and Fraud Prevention Report surveyed 1,200 people in the US and found that nearly half (48%) of taxpayers will file their own taxes online via tax preparation software, while only 37% plan to file with a certified tax preparer.

A reported one in 10 respondents said they believe that filing their returns with a certified preparer would put them at greater risk of tax and identity fraud. Additionally, 35% chose "filing taxes online with a tax preparation software" as the activity that puts them at greatest risk of becoming a victim of tax fraud or tax identity theft. Still, more than a quarter (26%) of respondents said they don’t know which behavior is most risky.

When asked about storing and disposing of their tax records, 45% of respondents said they hold on to their tax returns and associated paperwork, storing them in an unsecured location at home or work.

The findings suggested that nearly half of the participants remain uninformed about the storage and disposal practices of their tax preparers, with 44% admitting they have never been informed about how their tax preparers secure, store and dispose of sensitive tax-related documents.

“The Tax Season and Fraud Prevention Report reveals how common these risky tax-filing habits are and how they put taxpayers in jeopardy for fraud or identity theft,” said Monu Kalsi, vice president of marketing for Stericycle, the provider of Shred-it information security services, in a press release.

“As we near the April 15 tax-filing deadline, we encourage everyone to reassess how they are handling their own tax documents that contain sensitive information and also question how those preparing taxes for us are doing the same.”

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