LANSING–With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaiming October as Michigan’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, officials at the Michigan Department of Treasury are asking Michiganders to be cybersecurity aware and prepared to fight tax-related identity theft.
Cybercriminals are consistently using new tricks and tactics to obtain personal information so they can fraudulently file state income tax returns and claim refunds on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers. Often, the taxpayer is already a victim of identity theft when a cybercriminal attempts to claim their state tax refund.
“Cybercriminals often attempt both simple and sophisticated schemes to steal from taxpayers,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “If you have questions about your taxes or suspect you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft, always feel free to contact us for assistance.”
To be cybersecurity aware and prepared to fight tax-related identity theft:
- Only connect to the Internet over secure, password-protected networks.
- Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments or respond to emails from individuals you don’t know.
- If you are unsure of the email sender, type a website name by hand rather than clicking on an embedded link.
- Do not respond to online requests for personally identifiable information. Most organizations—banks, universities, companies, Treasury—do not ask for your personal information over the Internet.
- Limit who you share information with by reviewing the privacy settings of your social media accounts.
- Trust your intuition. If you think an offer is too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Password-protect all user accounts and devices that connect to the Internet.
- Do not use the same password twice. Choose a password that means something to you and you only. Change your password on a regular basis.
- If something seems suspicious, report it to the proper authorities.
As an additional layer of taxpayer protection, Treasury sends confirmation quiz letters to help prevent the loss of state income tax refunds.
Since 2016, the state Treasury Department’s increased security measures protected more than 5,800 taxpayers who confirmed their identity was stolen and used to request state of Michigan income tax refunds. This prevented more than $22 million from being distributed to scammers.
Taxpayers should follow the directions if a confirmation quiz letter is received.
To learn more about tax-related identity theft, go to Michigan.gov/IdentityTheft or follow the state Treasury Department on Twitter at @MITreasury. More information about the state Treasury Department is available at Michigan.gov/Treasury.