Mortgage Software Solutions Blog

5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Tax Fraud

Protect-yourself-from-Tax-Fraud.jpgTax season is fast approaching. As you're gathering up all the important documents from last year, struggling to be sure that you have all the information you need and that you're filing your taxes accurately, there's one other thing you need to take into consideration: the potential for tax fraud. Both your personal information and your business information is at risk, but you can take several critical steps to protect yourself from tax fraud.

1. Know Your Scams

The more informed you are, the better you can protect yourself against any scam that might arise—and that's more true at tax time than at any other. When you're familiar with the most common scams, you can keep your personal and business information out of harm's way. The most common scams to watch out for this year include:

  • Fraudulent returns, when your information is stolen and a false return issued in your name
  • Phone scams, when a false IRS agent calls and insists that you pay relevant taxes immediately, with no time to think
  • Phishing scams in the form of fake emails and text messages designed to appear as though they come from the IRS

Keep in mind that if the IRS contacts you, it's not going to be through email or text, nor will they call you on the phone.

2. Keep Your Information Private

You've always known that it was important to keep your social security number, your personal and professional bank account numbers, and other personal information out of the hands of scammers. As those scams become more sophisticated, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your information private.

To keep yourself from being the victim of a fraudulent tax return, make sure you're keeping your information secure by:

  • Shredding any documents that contain private information
  • Keeping your information private and choosing not to share it unless absolutely necessary
  • Keeping private information off of shared networks
  • Increasing password security on any financial documents held on your computer
  • Knowing not to provide private information over the phone or through email, especially to people who have called specifically to ask for it
  • Using security tools like DocumentGuardian or DeviceGuardian to keep your documents and devices, and the information they contain, safe

3. Know the IRS

The IRS is something that many people simply don't want to think about. They know that they have to pay taxes every year, but beyond that, they try to avoid knowing any more than necessary about the IRS. Understanding what professional communications from the IRS look like, however, will allow you to more effectively protect yourself.

  • The IRS website ends with ".gov" and is a secured site that will appear with "https" in the address bar. Avoid following a link to reach it; instead, enter it into the address bar for yourself, and check for spelling errors.
  • The IRS will not place a phone call or send an email. All communications will come through paper mail.
  • Any information about tax preparation that comes via a pop-up or an internet link shouldn't be trusted until the validity of the site has been confirmed.

4. Update Security Software

This time of year, hackers and scammers know that most companies are scrambling to compile critical financial data. If your servers, networks, and devices aren't secure, this is the time of year for them to break in and see what they can acquire. That means you need updated security in order to protect yourself. Up-to-date security software is one of the foremost recommendations for keeping your financial data private.

5. Look Outside the IRS Scams

Scams from individuals stealing your information and submitting false returns or individuals pretending to be from the IRS are bad enough. Unfortunately, there are other scammers who are eager to take advantage during this season. These include:

  • Fake charities eager to solicit a "donation" from you during a season when you have extra money thanks to a tax return
  • Tax preparation specialists who really have no expertise and will either pocket part of your return for themselves or who will steal your information
  • Promises of tax shelters, moving your money to offshore accounts, or anything else that sounds too good to be true.

During this tax preparation season, make sure you're taking the steps necessary to protect yourself. You don't want to be the victim of tax fraud, and we're here to help you avoid it. With secure systems that will help keep your information private and a comprehensive cloud platform you can count on, Access Business Technologies is a trusted source for all mortgage companies and their unique technology support needs.

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Topics: Tax Time

It's Tax Time! Refi's to Short Sales, mortgage deductions to consider

Access Business Technologies hosts Mortgage Servicing Software for some of the largest Credit Unions in the country. It's "Tax Time" again and we don't want your members to miss out on their mortgage deductions. Some tax deductions to consider are those relating to the purchase of a home, refinancing an existing loan, an existingMortgage Deductions mortgage, or a short sale.  This article is written for them.

Purchasing of a home.  At closing you will receive a HUD-1 statement, also referred to as the closing statement. This statement should show all the money that you have spent in relation to the purchase of the home and the allocation of the money spent.  In most cases, there will be a small amount of property tax that you have paid, this is a tax deductible expense.  You will also see mortgage loan origination fees and Points on the HUD-1.  These are also tax deductible expenses.  What is a mortgage loan origination fee?  This fee is the administrative costs associated with getting the loan, such as fees paid to attorneys, notary public fees, and the preparation costs.  Are you wondering what a point is?  Points are the upfront fees that equal one percent of the loan.  Points can lower your mortgage interest rate.  Remember, don't miss out on your mortgage deductions this year.

  • Loan Origination fees
  • Points

Refinancing an existing loan.  When you refinance, points paid can be deducted over the life of the loan.  In this situation, you should take into consideration, new points, old points, and early payoff.  What are new points? New points are those points that have been incurred for the new loan.  Old points are those that are left over from the old loan in the year that you convert to the new loan.  What about an early payoff you ask?  If you decide to pay your mortgage loan off early, you can deduct any remaining points in the year that you pay the loan off.  

  • Old Points
  • New Points
  • Early Payoff Points


Existing Mortgage.  Deductible real estate taxes are generally any state, local or foreign taxes on real property.  These taxes must be charged uniformly against all property in the jurisdiction and must be based on the assessed value. You can also deduct the mortgage interest and property taxes that you paid for the year.  Mortgage interest is reported to you on Form 1098.  If your property taxes are paid through escrow, the Form 1098 should show how much you paid for property taxes as well.  If the form doesn't show the amount of property taxes paid, you can refer to your property tax statements that you receive twice a year.  

  • Mortgage interest (primary and secondary residence)
  • Property taxes paid during the year
  • State, local, or foreign taxes

Short Sale.  If you receive a 1099-C (Cancellation of Debt) as the result of a short sale andShort Sale you meet certain exceptions, thanks to the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of
2007, you can exclude the canceled amount from your taxable income.  You can refer to the following IRS webpage for more information:    http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=179414,00.html.

  • Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 

Sale of primary residence under normal circumstances.  If you decided to sell your primary residence under normal circumstances, you can exclude a gain on the sale price of up to to$250,000 for single tax filers, and $500,000 for married filers who file jointly.

  • Capital Gain Exclusion

Refer to IRS Publication 523 for more information regarding the gain exclusion on the sale of your primary residence. Capital gain exclusions are only applicable to the sale of your primary residence providing that you meet the ownership and use tests. Again, don't miss out on your tax deductions this year

 

Topics: Tax Time Mortgage Deductions Refinancing Short Sales