Learn the Signs of Tax ID Theft
Millions of people fall victim to identity theft every year, and no matter how careful you are, you may be one of them. While it is important to take steps to protect yourself and your information from identity theft, it is also crucial to learn to recognize the signs of theft so that you can take action and stop the thieves before you lose money.
During tax season, identity thieves often focus on stealing tax information so that they can file and receive your return. Unfortunately, you may not be unaware that Tax ID theft has happened until you attempt to file your taxes, receive a letter from the IRS, or otherwise notice discrepancies in your accounts.
Has Your Tax ID Been Stolen?
Incorrect IRS Records – If IRS records indicate that you received wages or other income from an employer whom you did not work for, you may be a victim of tax ID fraud. This may also be the case if you owe additional tax, refund offset, or have had collections taken against you for a year when you did not file a tax return. Contact your CPA for support and advice.
IRS Letter – If the IRS sends you a letter asking you to verify a tax return, you should respond immediately. If you did not file the return, call the number provided on the paper.
Unsolicited Tax Information – If you receive a tax refund or tax transcript in the mail but did not request them, you may be a victim of tax identity theft. In some cases, you may receive documents and payments that the thief intended to send elsewhere when the IRS website uses your primary address instead. In this case, you should write VOID on the transcript or on the return, return any direct deposit, and contact the IRS.
You Receive Tax Issue From an Unknown Employer – If you receive tax information from an unknown employer, you may be a victim of identity theft. Undocumented workers commonly use stolen social security numbers and someone may be reporting their income with your tax ID.
Your Tax Return is Rejected - If you receive a message saying that a return with a duplicate Social Security Number has been filed, you may be a victim of tax fraud.
Double check to make sure that your social security number is correct before proceeding. In most cases, you may also want to ensure that your spouse or a dependent has not filed your return for you. If your CPA filed your taxes for you, have them go over the details to ensure that everything is correct. If your information is correct, you may be a victim of identity theft.
If you suspect that you are a victim of Tax ID theft and your Social Security Number has been stolen, you should file a paper tax return anyway.
How to Respond to Tax Identity Theft
Visit identitytheft.gov and file a complaint with the FTC.
Contact your bank and credit accounts and ensure that none of your accounts have been tampered with by identity thieves. Double check to ensure that new accounts have not been opened in your name.
File your taxes using a paper return, fill out Form 14039,(Identity Theft Affidavit) and mail both documents to the IRS.
If you received a notice from the IRS, call the number provided, and if instructed, visit IDVerify.irs.gov
If contacting the IRS does not work, contact them at 1-800-908-4490 for specialized assistance.
How to Reduce the Risk of Tax Fraud
In most cases, you can easily reduce the risk of tax fraud by being cautious, staying safe online, and protecting your data offline.
- Use antivirus programs with a firewall.
- Use strong passwords on all of your accounts and change them every 6 months.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing and scam email, calls, text, and mail.
- Never click on direct links to financial institutions, instead open a new browser window and type the address.
- Do not download attachments from unknown senders.
- Keep your tax records and social security data safe offline. Shred any tax related documents that you plan to dispose of.
- Never respond to email from the IRS, this is always fraudulent.
Camputaro and Associates
Certified Public Accounting Firm
136 N. Orchard Street, Suite 8
Ormond Beach, FL 32174