Iowa State University

ITInformation Technology

On the trail of your tax refund

This blog entry expired May 6, 2017. It may contain out-of-date information.

A popular activity for criminals who have grabbed your personal information is tax-related identity theft, a crime that has grown in recent years. Most commonly, the thief will use your information to file a false tax return in your name and claim the refund.

Frequently, victims do not realize a false tax return has been filed until they attempt to legitimately file their taxes. In recent years, a relatively small number of ISU employees have been affected by this crime, but some organizations have seen hundreds or even thousands of employees fall victim.

Criminals continue to get bolder in their attempts to steal your personal information. Recent schemes include calling potential victims claiming to be an IRS agent pursuing delinquent taxes, and targeting human resources professionals with phishing emails designed to look like a request from the company president asking for employee tax information. Beware of scammers and do not let them trick you into sharing personal information – yours or anyone else’s.

Here are some tips on how to stay cyber safe when dealing with taxes:

  • Never give your personal information via phone or email to sources you cannot verify. The IRS will initially contact you by mail, not through phone or email.

  • Try to beat tax thieves to the punch by filing your taxes as soon as you receive all the necessary documentation. Even if you owe taxes, you can file early and pay on or near the tax deadline. (As always, consult your lawyer or tax adviser on tax issues.)

  • If you suspect you are the victim of tax fraud, report it immediately to ISU payroll at (515) 294-6556 or to launch an investigation.

  • If you have been a victim of tax fraud in the past, watch IRS communications closely. Identity theft victims are issued an identity protection personal identification number for their protection when filing taxes.

The IRS has an online guide with links and resources to help resolve instances of tax-related identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission’s deals more broadly with issues of identity theft.