Identifying Identity Theft during Tax Season
Identity theft can be a frustrating obstacle during any time of the year, but specially frustrating during tax time. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses a stolen Social Security number to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. Nothing can be more frustrating than not being able to receive your anticipated refund. If you are like me, I plan what to do with my refund the year prior and look forward to spending it on either a vacation with the family or maybe to treat myself to something nice for the house.
A person’s SSN can be stolen through data breaches (we’ve had plenty this past year), lost wallet, computer hacking, etc. Regardless how it occurs the impact it has on its victims can sometimes be lasting.
Tax-related identity theft continues to be a priority for the IRS and they have continued to help victims of identity and resolve any tax issues that arise from identity theft. The best way to combat tax-related identity theft is by knowing the warning signs. Be alert if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:
- More than one tax return was filed for you;
- You owe additional tax, have a refund offset, or have collection actions taken against you for a year that you did not file a tax return;
- IRS records indicate you received more wages than you earned or
- Your state or federal benefits have been reduced or cancelled because the agency has received an increase in income change.
If any of these warning signs have happened to you don’t despair. The following steps for tax-related identity theft victims are recommended:
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity theft hotline at 877-438-4338
- Contact one, or all, of the three major credit
bureaus to place a “fraud alert” on your record:
- Equifax -www.equifax.com 800-525-6285
- Experian www.experian.com 888-397-3742
- Transunion www.transunion.com 800-680-7289
- Respond to any IRS notice alerting them that you are a victim of identity theft.
- Complete IRS form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. You can download the form from their website at www.irs.gov or ask your tax professional.
- If you previously contacted the IRS but received no resolution, you can call the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
If you believe you, or someone you know, have been a victim to tax-related identity theft take the proper steps to report the issue quickly. The IRS and tax professionals are ready to assist you and help you get your records corrected.
27851 Bradley Rd., Ste 145
Menifee, CA 92586
Maryann is also Tax Professional
And owner of Briseno Tax Services