Tax Identity Theft Victims Can Still Find a Happy Ending
Tax identity theft – someone filing a tax return using your Social Security number – is a real problem. In just one tax year – 2016 – fraudsters filed some 1.5 million false tax returns. That added up to a $1.7- to $2.3-billion swindle from the U.S. government. It also means a delayed or stolen tax refund for you!
How Do You Know If You Are a Tax Identity Theft Victim?
One of two scenarios will be the most likely way you’ll find out if someone has filed a return using your Social Security number. One arrives as a letter from the IRS. This letter may ask you to verify your identity, or question you about some income you know nothing about.
If you receive a letter, you should respond as soon as possible. There should be a phone number on the notice that you can call. Follow the letter’s instructions. The IRS will outline steps for you to verify your identity, or who to contact about disputed facts.
And remember, the IRS will never call you or send an email. Steer clear of those, because it’s probably an attempt to steal your identity!
The other most common scenario is that you e-file your tax return, and the IRS rejects it. That’s because another return with your Social Security number is already filed.
You Find Out You’re a Tax Identity Theft Victim – What Should You Do?
There are steps you should follow in addition to responding to an IRS letter. First is to download and fill out IRS Form 14039, the Identity Theft Affidavit. You’ll mail it to the IRS along with a photocopy of your Social Security card, and a photocopy of government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport.
Next, contact the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov. They’ll help you make a recovery plan and assist you to put it into action.
It’s a good idea to look at a copy of your credit report to look for suspicious activity. And you’ll want to get ahold of one of the big credit agencies (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax) to put a fraud alert on your credit profile.
You can still file your tax return – you’ll just need to mail in a paper copy. And even if your identity isn’t stolen, you can still enroll in the IRS’s Identity Protection PIN program. When you do, the IRS will reject any tax return that doesn’t include your PIN.
Check out the IRS Taxpayers Guide to Identity Theft.
Click here to get a copy of the IRS Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit.
This linkhttps://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/get-an-identity-protection-pin will tell you how to get an Identity Protection PIN.
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