Tax Day 2017, the IRS filing deadline for 2016 tax returns, falls on April 18 this year. The Desert News reported on April 3 that because many people pay other parties to prepare returns for them, officials with the IRS are cautioning taxpayers to “be wary of shady characters masquerading as professional preparers.”
Every year, the IRS releases a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams that includes a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. According to the IRS, tax-related identity theft “remains a top item on the Dirty Dozen list because it remains an ongoing concern even though progress is being made.”
The agency said that the number of taxpayers reporting stolen identities on federal tax returns in 2016 fell by more than 50 percent, with nearly 275,000 fewer victims compared to a year ago. The IRS provides the following reminders for taxpayers and tax professionals:
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records stored on the computer. Use strong passwords.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as a bank, credit card company and government organizations, including the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.
The crime commonly known as identity theft is referred to as identity fraud in the Utah Code. The offense is typically a third-degree felony when the value of the credit, goods, services, employment, or any other thing of value involved is less than $5,000, but the crime can become a second-degree felony if the value is or exceeds $5,000, or if the use of personal identifying information results, directly or indirectly, in bodily injury of another person.
Lawyer for Identity Fraud Arrests in Salt Lake City
An alleged offender commits the crime of identity fraud in Utah under Utah Code § 76-6-1102 when he or she knowingly or intentionally uses, or attempts to use, the personal identifying information of another person, whether that person is alive or deceased, with fraudulent intent, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, employment, any other thing of value, or medical information. Personal identifying information can include a name, birth date, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, Social Security number, place of employment, employee identification numbers or other personal identification numbers, mother’s maiden name, electronic identification numbers, a photograph or any other realistic likeness, electronic signatures under Title 46, Chapter 4, Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, or any other numbers or information that can be used to access a person’s financial resources or medical information, except for numbers or information that can be prosecuted as financial transaction card offenses.
When a person is accused of committing an identity fraud offense or any white collar crime in Utah, it is critical to immediately seek the help of an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney. Many alleged offenders in these types of cases had no intent to obtain goods or services through fraud. Some people face these charges as the result of using personal information at the request of the alleged victims.
A lawyer may be able to uncover flaws in a prosecutor’s case that lead to criminal charges being minimized or completely eliminated. If you think that you might be under investigation or you have already been arrested in Utah for alleged identity fraud, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible for help achieving the most favorable possible resolution to your case.