Early Warning Signs and Steps to Take
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. Most people don’t know they’re victims of tax identity theft until they file their own tax returns and the IRS rejects them. Here are three warning signs from the IRS:
- More than one tax return was filed using your SSN.
- You received payment from an unfamiliar employer.
- You owe additional tax or had an unexplained refund offset (i.e., part of your refund was withheld due to past-due child support, outstanding student loans, or unpaid state income tax).
5 actions to take for victims of tax fraud.
If you find yourself or someone you know to be a victim of tax-related identity theft, here are some steps to take:
- Contact the IRS immediately. If you receive a notice, respond immediately. You can also contact the IRS at 800-908-4490 so they can take steps to secure your tax account and social security number.
- Complete 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 during 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.
Unfortunately, even once you’ve taken all these steps, there are still ways for criminals to steal and use your identity – and new tax scams are emerging every year. 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.
Some states seem especially prone to identity theft, and there are several factors that tend to lead to higher fraud statistics. For example, Florida comes in at #2 as it is not only one of the most populous states, but it has many retirees who are often targets of medical identity theft, bill collection scams, and tax identity theft. However, it’s a fact that residents of any state, town or neighborhood can become part of the identity theft statistics. Protect yourself by employing strong passwords on your digital devices, being suspicious of any information requests by phone or email, and maintaining safe online behavior.
Protect your social security number and more.
With IdentityForce’s Smart SSN Tracker feature, we’ll alert you if there’s an unfamiliar name, alias, or address associated with you or your child’s social security number (could be an indication of fraud).
Learn more how to safeguard against tax-related identity theft with our award-winning identity theft protection products, and how to protect your children with our ChildWatch service.