Prevention detection and resolving identity theft is the focus of the IRS with more than 3000 employees working on identity theft cases and 35000 employees trained to work with taxpayers to recognize and provide assistance when identity theft occurs.
Taxpayers can encounter identity theft involving their tax returns in several ways. One instance occurs when thieves try filling fraudulent claims using another person’s identifying information which has been stolen. Innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.
Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when necessary.
- Protect your financial information.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Keep all personal information secure in your home.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software updating security patches and changing passwords for internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone through the mail or on the internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
If your tax records are not currently in jeopardy of identity theft but you believe you may still be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet questionable credit card activity or credit report contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit (800-908-4490 extension 245 Monday through Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. local time.
What to Do Should You Suspect You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
Be alert to possible theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:
- More than one tax return for you was filed
- You have a balance due refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for one year
- IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned
- Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled
If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently respond immediately by calling the number on the notice. If you did not receive an IRS notice but believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft contatct the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit (800-908-4490 extension 245) right away so steps can be taken to secure your tax account and your SSN or ITIN can be secured. Also fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit form 14039 and write legibly. Follow the directions on the back of the form relating to your specific circumstances.
Recommended Steps for Identity Theft Victims Outside of the IRS
- Equifax – www.equifax.com 800-525-6285
- Experian – www.experian.com 888-397-3742
- TransUnion – www.transunion.com 800-680-7289
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
More information is available at irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection-Tips
Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft — http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft
If You Have Reported an Identity Theft Case to IRS and Are Waiting on Your Federal Tax Refund Remember:
The IRS is working to speed up and further streamline identity theft case resolution to help innocent taxpayers. The IRS more than doubled the level of employees dedicated to working identity theft cases between 2011 and 2012. As the IRS enters the 2014 filing season more than 3000 IRS employees will be working identity theft issues.
Identity thefts are extremely complex cases to resolve frequently touching on multiple issues and multiple tax years. Cases of resolving identity can be complicated by the thieves themselves contacting the IRS. Due to the complexity of the situation this is a time-consuming process. Taxpayers are likely to see their refunds delayed for an extended period of time while the IRS takes necessary actions to resolve the matter. A typical case can take about 180 days to resolve and the IRS is working to reduce that time period.
If you have an open identity theft case that is being worked by the IRS you need to continue to file your tax returns during this period.
For victims of identity theft who have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution to their case you may contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit toll-free at 800-908-4490. If you are unable to get your issue resolved and are experiencing financial difficulties contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service toll-free at 877-777-4778.
For those living in or outside of the Louisville KY area looking for answers or have questions about this issue contact Lindemeyer CPA. We will be happy to walk you through some of the processes and get the answers you’re looking for.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net