Identity theft can be one of the more infuriating crimes to find yourself the victim of. It can strike unexpectedly, and be very difficult to amend. Fortunately, the IRS works to help you overcome your tax-related identity theft so that you can return to your normal, secure life as quickly and easily as possible.
Tax related identity theft happens when your Social Security number is stolen and used to file a return, claiming your refund for another individual. Since this generally happens early in the year, you may not discover this theft until months after it has happened. You may receive a notice from the IRS that more than one return has been filed in your name, or you may find that you owe additional tax on wages from an employer you have never heard of.
Should you fall victim to identity theft, take the following steps:
- File a report with law enforcement officials
- Go to www.ftc.gov to report the theft
- Close any accounts that have been opened or tampered with without your permission
- Have a fraud alert placed on your credit records by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus:
- Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285
- Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
If you know that your SSN is compromised, and suspect that you might be a victim of tax-related identity theft, take the following steps:
- Fill out IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit
- Respond immediately to any notices you receive from the IRS
- Continue to pay taxes and file returns as appropriate, even if you must do so by paper
You can reduce your risk of falling victim to identity theft by taking the following precautions:
- Do not carry your Social Security card around on your person
- Only give out your SSN to businesses and other entities if it is absolutely necessary
- Secure your computer with a reliable antispyware program
- Check your credit report and Social Security Administration earnings statement annually
- Do not give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or via the internet unless you initiated the contact or are confident about who you are sending it to
- Remember that the IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email to request personal information
You can learn more about identity theft by visiting identitytheft.gov. Should you require any further help with taxes or other financial business, please contact Seattle CPA Alisa Na during normal business hours.