As an identity theft protection company, we spend a lot of time trying to educate the public about steps everyone can take to help protect their identities—and that includes during tax season. Tax identity theft usually occurs in the form of a criminal using your Social Security number to file your tax return before you do, and then walking away with your refund check. There are also IRS imposter scams and situations in which thieves steal your child’s Social Security number and claim him or her as a dependent on their returns. During the first nine months of 2016, 237,750 people filed affidavits with the IRS saying they were victims of tax-related identity theft.
This type of identity theft is such a problem that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has given it its own week—Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week—and this year it is January 30 – February 3, 2017.
Most people don’t know they’re victims of tax identity theft until their tax returns are rejected. In the event this happens to you this year, here’s what you’ll need to do to try and get your tax return—and identity—back on track:
- Contact the IRS immediately. If you’re given a phone number, call; if you receive a notice, respond immediately. Remember that tax identity theft is more common than you may realize and the IRS staff is trained to handle these situations.
- Fill out and submit an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit. IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, is a fillable form on the IRS website and should be filled out if you try to e-file your taxes and they get rejected due to a duplicate filing. Fill it out, print it, attach the form to your paper return and mail everything in to the IRS.
- Don’t stop paying taxes. Even in the midst of a possible tax-related identity theft incident, keep paying your normal taxes and file your tax return by paper.
- Contact the FTC. Once you’ve done everything you can to start resolving things with the IRS, contact the FTC and file a complaint via identitytheft.gov.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit record. Contact one of the three major credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to put a fraud alert on your credit report. That one company is obligated to notify the other two companies, and doing this can make it much more difficult for an identity thief to open any accounts in your name.
Unfortunately, even once you’ve taken all of these steps, there are still ways for criminals to steal and use your identity. It can feel like a frustrating, never-ending cycle in some cases—and impossible to monitor all the time.
When you’re a member of IdentityForce, we take care of all the hard stuff for you. We monitor your accounts 24/7, and if something looks fishy, we act right away so any potential damage is as minimal as possible. And, if someone steals your identity and takes your tax return (or does something to affect you negatively in any other way) we’ll take control and do everything necessary to restore your identity. An identityForce membership doesn’t just provide peace of mind—it saves you countless hours when it comes to preventing, monitoring, and restoring your identity.
IdentityForce is here to help not just during tax season, but all year round. Sign up for a membership today.