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Identity theft tax refund fraud cost the IRS almost $6 billion in 2013. In order to protect taxpayers, the IRS has instituted a series of security controls. For those who file their tax returns electronically, the tax software providers will strengthen validation requirements by toughening password standards. Passwords will require a minimum of eight characters with uppercase, lowercase, alphabetic, numerical, and special characters. Security questions will be added, and a new timed lockout feature will limit unsuccessful log-in attempts. State returns may require additional information, such as a driver license number.

Taxpayers will also experience slower time frames in receiving the refunds so that the IRS and state taxing agencies can ensure only one tax return per taxpayer was filed. The IRS also recommends taxpayers institute the following controls:

  • Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protection.
  • Recognize and avoid phishing e-mails, threatening calls, and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations. Do not click links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious e-mails.
  • Protect your personal data. Don’t carry your social security card, and secure your tax records.