Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week: January 29 – February 2, 2018

DAY 5 – How are the IRS and state revenue officials protecting taxpayer data today?

  • Password protocols have been enhanced for individual and tax professional software.
  • The IRS is requesting additional information from tax professionals who contact them to discuss client information. The additional information may include SSN, date of birth or home address.  According to the IRS, this personal information is necessary to verify the identities of the tax professional they are releasing taxpayer information to.
  • IRS has strengthened protections for IRS e-Services.
  • States and financial institutions have implemented their own program to help identity false refunds.
  • The IRS is enforcing a Form W-2 verification code that will help verify income information and employer for 2018 tax filing season.
  • The IRS has a public awareness campaign “Taxes. Security. Together.” to help taxpayers and tax professionals stay alert to cybercriminals and identity thieves.

As cybercriminals and identity thieves’ progress, we need to stay on guard!

To keep yourself up to date with the latest scams and tips to protect your personal information visit  You will find plenty of information regarding the latest scams targeting taxpayers, telephone scams, email scams, etc.


Sources “Security Summit Partners Mark Progress in Identity Theft Battle; Prepare for 2018 Tax Season” “IRS asking for taxpayer representatives’ personal information”


Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week: January 29 – February 2, 2018

DAY 4 – Reasons to Use Direct Deposit for your Tax Refund

Nowadays, using direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to receive a tax refund. Taxpayers who option out of e-file and choose to file a paper return can still use direct deposit as their refund method.

Direct deposit is beneficial because it eliminates the risk of a paper tax refund being stolen or lost.




The IRS does have a direct deposit limit.  The limit is set to fight fraud, identity theft and criminals obtaining multiple refunds.  The limit of tax refunds being directly deposited into a single bank account or pre-paid debit card is three.  The fourth and subsequent refunds will be paper checks and mailed to the taxpayer or their tax professional with a notice.

You must deposit refunds into an account in your own name, spouse’s name or both.  Keep in mind, some banks require both spouses’ names on the account to directly deposit a tax refund.  It is best to check the direct deposit rules with the bank first.

With direct deposit, you have the option to split a refund into several accounts.  These accounts include checking, savings, health and some retirement accounts.  For more detailed information and instructions use IRS Form 8888 or notify your tax professional to complete the form on your behalf when filing your tax return.

Sources “Here’s Five Reasons to Use Direct Deposit for a Tax Refund” “Get Your Refund Faster: Tell IRS to Direct Deposit your Refund to One, Two or Three Accounts

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week: January 29 – February 2, 2018

DAY 3 – How Do You Protect Yourself From Identity Theft?

TREAT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION LIKE CASH, don’t leave it laying around.  By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of identity theft.

  • Do not routinely carry your social security card or any type of document with your social security number.
  • Keep old tax returns and tax records secured/locked away. If electronic, keep encrypted.
  • Shred tax documents or any document with your personal information before throwing away in the trash (credit card bills, invoices, banking statements, medical documents, expired driver’s license, etc.).
  • Avoid IRS-Impersonators. The IRS will not call you with threats of jail or lawsuits.  The IRS will not request personal information online.

Forward IRS-related scam emails to

Report IRS-impersonators at

  • If you are publicly sharing your personal information on social media….stop! There is just some information that should not be shared with everybody.

The Do Not Share List

  1. Home address
  2. Places you lived
  3. Birth date (M/D/Y)
  4. Work place
  5. Vacation plans
  6. Any information about your children, a new car, a new home.


Sources“Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft”

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week: January 29 – February 2, 2018

DAY 2 What To Do If You Become A Victim Of Tax Identity Theft

  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice. 

Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to verify the notice received of tax identify theft or your tax professional will call on your behalf with Power of Attorney.

When the IRS confirms they sent the notice, an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) should be completed and submitted.

The IRS will then issue a PIN that verifies that you are the true owner of that identity.

It is extremely important to not misplace your PIN.  Obtaining a replacement PIN is a real challenge.

 For more information on IRS identity theft victim assistance visit

  • Alert your financial institutions right away.

They will need to monitor any fraudulent activity on your accounts.  You will need to review transactions and have any accounts closed that you did not authorize to open.

  • Notify at least one of the credit bureaus.

The credit bureau will place a fraud alert on your credit records. 

  • Contact the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to file a complaint.

The FTC recommends you visit their website to find helpful resources and file the complaint online.


Sources “Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft”

Raquel, Arrechea “Understanding Tax Return Identity Theft.” New Jersey CPA Magazine

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week: January 29 – February 2, 2018

The 2017 tax filing season is officially here.  Fortis is helping to raise awareness on tax identity theft so that you do not become a victim. We also know identity theft is a frustrating process for victims.  If you become a victim, we are committed to resolving your case as quickly as possible.


DAY 1 – What is Tax Identity Theft?

Tax identity theft is when someone steals your social security number to file a false tax return claiming a tax refund.

You most likely will not know if you are a victim of tax related identity theft until you file your tax return.  You will be contacted by your tax professional or by the IRS if there are suspicions.


Warning Signs:

  • More than one tax return was filed using your SSN.
  • You owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work.

If you suspect you are a victim of tax related identity theft you still need to continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return(s). 


Source (Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft)

Fortis Perspectives – November 2017




Year-End Tax Planning In the Wake of Tax Reform.

Jennifer-Fields_bwAs you have undoubtedly seen in the news, the U.S. House and Senate have each released their respective versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act over the last few weeks. The House bill presented many challenges for year-end planning and now this is compounded by the Senate’s proposal, which varies from current law and the House proposal. What should taxpayers contemplate as we approach December 31st? Consider the issue below. As always, we are here to help you navigate the every-changing tax landscape.  Reform may bring lower tax rates and greater limitations on deductions. Consider accelerating deductions and deferring income.

  • Consider paying state, local and real estate taxes before year-end.
  • Proposed changes to the mortgage interest deduction are on the table. Before paying off, refinancing or consolidating debt speak to your tax advisor to determine how you may be impacted.
  • Although charitable gifts continue to be a deduction under the proposed bills, taking the deduction in 2017 against higher tax rates may be applicable to you.
  • Itemized deductions are expected to be limited so consider prepaying tax preparations fees and investment advisory fees.
  • Other standard year-end practices still apply including the following: utilizing payroll or RMD withholding in lieu of quarterly estimates, realizing losses on investments, donating appreciated stock, making qualified charitable distributions from an IRA, maximizing 2017 retirement contributions and year-end gifting.
  • Both bills contemplate an expanded gift / estate tax exemption. Although we do not foresee any year- end deadlines, many families will want to take advantage of this immediately following the New Year, should a bill be passed.
  • For business owners, modifications to corporate tax rates as well as pass-through entities will certainly call into question the optimal entity structure. We recommend consulting with your advisor immediately to consider all options.
  • Other corporate matters like expensing the cost of qualified property, depreciation and deductibility of interest may change so this warrants most business owners to revisit their current tax plans.

In summary, the proposed bills impact individuals, corporations, pass-through entities and exempt organizations. We expect these bills to be modified as politics will inevitably interfere with real tax reform. Our clients will hear from us in the coming weeks as we prepare for year-end and 2018 planning opportunities. In the meantime, if there are immediate needs or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the potential impact on you and your family.

Fortis Perspectives                                                                                November 2017

Jennifer L. Fields
Director of Tax

Cyber Security Awareness Month-Week 5

Fortis: Fighting Email Impersonators one message at a time 

Fortis values its client relationships and client information.  We know that you entrust us with many types of personal information and we don’t take that trust lightly.  Fortis has many ways in which we secure that data through Cyber Security, Office Security, and Employee Security.


What do we consider personal or confidential information?

Personal information is anything that identifies an individual or assists in identifying an individual such as their social security number, date of birth, address, or mother’s maiden name.  Confidential information includes an individual’s bank account information, account login information, driver’s license, passports, credit cards, etc.

2aDid you know that some of our clients have been victimized by email hacks?

There have been a few instances in which a Fortis employee received an email from someone purporting to be a “client” requesting a payment or transfer.  In each instance one of our employees suspected that the email was suspicious.  He/She contacted the client in a manner other than email in order to verify their information.  Some hackers will access your email account and review your emails to see what type of correspondence you have and with whom.  They then impersonate you and request money be transferred or a phony bill be paid.  In some instances they will take information from a legitimate email and ask you to transfer the funds to a different institution.  Financial hacks are occurring more and more each year.

3bHow does Fortis protect you when we receive a monetary email request?

As mentioned above, suspicious, large sum, or unusual monetary requests are verified by a method other than the originating written request.  The alternate method may be via fax, a phone call, or a method deemed secure/private by the client.

4aHow can you protect your email account?

The best way to protect your email account is to use a long, secure password that is not affiliated with you, your family, or your address.  The password should be a combination of capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and special characters.  Using this method we can transform a simple phrase such as ‘Puppies are cute’ into the secure password ‘Puppi3$ar3Cut3.’  Passwords should be changed on a regular basis and a password for secure sites such as financial institutions, should never be used as a password for another site.

5Do you suspect that you have been a victim of cyber-crime?

We encourage our clients to contact us as soon as possible if you believe you may be a cyber-crime victim.

Fortis Wealth, LP    *   1045 1st Avenue, Ste 120, King of Prussia, PA 19406   *   610-313-0910

Cyber Security Awareness Month-Week 4

October 2017

Protecting Children and Older Adults from Cyber Crime

During Week 4 of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we will focus on protecting the most vulnerable targets of cyber criminals – children and older adults.

 For parents, the Department of Homeland Security offers a guide that addresses the importance of talking with your children about the dangers of being online. To download the guide, use this link:

 Chatting With Kids Booklet.pdf

For adults age 65 and over (and for their adult children), the Department of Homeland Security also offers a brochure about particular areas of vulnerability and tips on how to protect your information and identity. Go to:

Cyber Security and Older Americans.pdf


 You may also be interested in these other resources:

  • FBI: Here you can find a list of common fraud schemes aimed at older Americans

  •  SeniorNet offers computer training at senior centers, public libraries, schools, and hospitals as part of their mission to provide older adults computer technology education.

  • helps protect consumers from being victimized by fraud.

  • Federal Trade Commission’s PassItOn Campaign: The PassItOn Campaign enlists people 65 and older to recognize and report fraud and other scams. Topics include imposter scams, identity theft, charity fraud, health care scams, paying too much, and “you’ve won” scams.

If you think you or someone close to you is a target or victim of cyber crime, please reach out to your Fortis Wealth advisor.

Cyber Security Awareness Month-Week 3

October 2017

Here at Fortis, we believe cyber-security is of the utmost importance, and we have made cyber-awareness a top priority for our Clients, Colleagues and Friends.  October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Fortis is promoting cyber security by sharing weekly tips and information during the month of October.


What to do if you lose your iPhone:


Cyber Security Awareness Month-Week 2

October 2017

Here at Fortis, we believe cyber-security is of the utmost importance, and we have made cyber-awareness a top priority for our Clients, Colleagues and Friends.  October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Fortis is promoting cyber security by sharing weekly tips and information during the month of October.

What is Phishing?

Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is a kind of identity theft that is growing in popularity among hackers. By using fraudulent websites and false emails, perpetrators attempt to steal your personal data – most commonly passwords and credit card information.

Criminals gain this information by sending you links to bogus sites that look like very similar to your online banking provider, your social networks and favorite shopping sites. Once you enter your login or credit card data they are able to steal it instantly. Some of the most commonly “spoofed” sites include PayPal, eBay, Yahoo! and MSN, as well as financial institutions. Bottom line: don’t think that an email is guaranteed to be safe when it’s not from a bank.

How to protect yourself against phishing