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What to do if you believe you are a victim of Identity theft

Posted on October 21, 2019

Tax-related identity theft is still on the rise, despite education efforts from the media, the IRS, and credit card companies.

Most ID theft occurs when a thief uses someone’s stolen Social Security number to file a tax return and through that, claim a fraudulent refund. In many cases the victim of identity theft is unaware of any problems — until they e-file their return.

The IRS is working to prevent this, and has developed early alert techniques which can often alert victims to suspicious return in their name using a stolen SSN before they file.

Knowing that ID theft is still on the rise, here is what you should know about identity theft, including warning signs.

Watch for:

  • More than one tax return being filed using your SSN.
  • An IRS notice of additional tax owed.
  • A refund offset notice (from the IRS)
  • Collection actions taken against you for a year when your tax returns were properly filed
  • IRS records indicating they received wages or other income from an employer for whom the taxpayer did not work.

What many TPSA client do not know is that if you suspect you are a victim of ID theft, you should continue to pay your taxes and file a tax return — even if you must do so only on paper. Our CPAs work with you to use best tax practices to keep you in good standing with the IRS and state government while the matter is being investigated and sorted out.

If you are a victim, make sure you:

  • File an immediate complaint with the FTC at gov.
  • Contact all of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records.
  • Immediately contact all financial institutions to close any financial or credit accounts opened without permission or that were tampered with by identity thieves.
  • Respond to any IRS notice and call the number provided in the letter.
  • Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit (available on IRS.gov). Download the form, print it, and attach the form to your tax return. Your CPA can help with your questions.

Taxpayers who previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution can contact the agency for specialized assistance at 1-800-908-4490, or talk with their CPA, who can often more readily get in contact with the right person at the IRS.

If you are unsure of the any suspicious mail or communication, talk to us at TPSA. We can help you determine genuine concerns from phishing scams, regardless of whether you are a previous client of ours or not.