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Identity theft is on the rise for business owners

A recent report by the United States Internal Revenue Service shows that while identity theft overall in the U.S. is on the decline, scams that target businesses are actually on the rise. This is frequently done through illegal and fraudulent tax filings, often through corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. The overall numbers are staggering.

As many as 10,000 business related tax filings could be potentially fraudulent in 2016, up by 4,000 from the previous year. This amounts to a potential of $268 million dollars in fraudulent activity. Much of this can be attributed to hackers recent successes in obtaining personal information. In 2015, cyber-thieves hacked into the IRS website, collecting personal information from as many as 700,000 taxpayers.

Part of the decline in personal tax fraud and identity theft might be attributed to a collaborative effort by the IRS, tax industry professionals and tax software companies who introduced an information-sharing partnership in March of 2015. The efforts now include monitoring for repetitive use of electronic addresses such as IP numbers, as well as sharing information regarding a computer's identification and metadata from the transactions to help recognize potential fraudulent activity.

While identity theft on a business level may be gaining momentum, it should also be a reminder that with an increased awareness of such actions, authorities will be on high notice. White collar crimes come with very serious ramifications if a suspect is found guilty, including heavy fines, a criminal record and time in prison.

If you find yourself facing white collar crime charges, whether it is insider trading, a Ponzi scheme, tax fraud or identity theft, it would benefit you to consider reaching out to a law professional for help in fighting the charges. Taking the steps to initiate a criminal defense could help a defendant protect their rights while also paving the way to have the charges against them reduced or dismissed.

Source: USA Today, "IRS: Identity thieves now targeting business tax returns," Accessed July 25, 2017

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