Information for taxpayers on Tax-Related Identity Theft: 2016
June 27, 2016
The rate of tax related identity theft crimes has significantly increased over the past several years. Below are answers to several common questions regarding tax related identity theft and how it affects individuals.
What is identity theft and how does it affect my taxes?
This is when someone uses your social security number and files a fraudulent tax return to generate a refund. This is typically done early on during the tax filing season. You will not be able to E-file your tax return because the IRS will determine your legitimate return as a duplicate filing under the same social security number. Any tax refund will be delayed.
How do I know if I am a victim?
You will not know this is an issue until you attempt to file your own tax return. Other ways that you may find out you are a victim is by the delay in your refund. You may receive correspondence from the IRS indicating that you already have a return filed, your refund is different or you owe money. You may also receive a notice from the IRS indicating that they received a suspicious return and would like to confirm whether or not the return is legitimate before they process the return.
What can I do to protect myself from becoming a victim?
There are many ways scammers attempt to retrieve your personal information. The ways to help keep your information safe is:
- Do not respond to emails or mail that look suspicious.
- Do not respond to emails from the IRS. They will always contact you by mail first.
- Never give your information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and you have verified the party whom you are speaking.
- You should keep all personal documents containing social security numbers safe and never carry them with you.
- You can obtain a PIN from the IRS to prevent others from e-filing a tax return under your social security number.
- Check your credit reports annually.
I am a victim, what do I do now?
The IRS has compiled a list of actions you can take if you find you are a victim.
- Call the IRS and inform them that you believe you are a victim as soon as possible at the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. They will place an identity theft indicator on your account.
- File Form 14039, IRS Identity Theft Affidavit to explain to the IRS your particular situation and how you have become aware.
- Apply for PINS with the IRS to help prevent fraudulent filings with the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Electronic-Filing-PIN-Request.
- Contact one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file.
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285
- Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
- Experian 1-888-397-3742
- Review your credit report for any activity you cannot explain.
- File a police report with your local station for identity theft or with their cyber-crimes unit.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online at https://www.identitytheft.gov/ or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.