It’s happening more and more. A taxpayer’s identity is stolen, and the information is used to file a fraudulent return.Many times, the fraud victim never receives a letter from the IRS — often because the IRS does yet not know the fraud event has occurred. Sometimes the first sign of wrongdoing comes when a taxpayer e-files her tax return and it bounces back, stating one had already been filed under her name.
The most recent large-scale incident, impacting the IRS’ own website, has expanded from initial reports of 100,000 affected taxpayers back in May to include more than 300,000 taxpayers as of August 17th. According toCNBC, transcripts that were stolen from the IRS were used to file fraudulent tax returns, with nearly $50 million in refunds stolen.
While the government works on prevention at a systemic level, it’s important to know what to do if you believe you have been a victim of tax ID fraud. Below are a few recommendations from the IRS:
- If your ID is stolen — whether you believe the ID was or was not used inappropriately for tax purposes:
- Contact your accountant to help guide you through the process.
- Report to the local police, one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and your financial institutions.
- File a complaint with the FTC: www.identitytheft.gov.
- Respond immediately if you receive an IRS notice reporting that more than one tax return was filed under your name or other suspicious tax-related activity has occurred.
- File Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit
- If you are claiming to be a victim of ID theft, be prepared to provide the IRS with the following:
- Copy of valid U.S. federal or state government-issued identification
- Evidence of the ID theft (Form 14039)
- If you receive an email from the IRS requesting personal information:
- Be aware that the IRS does not request sensitive information by email.
- Forward a copy of the email to IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you have previously contacted the IRS and have not receive a resolution, contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1.800.908.4490.
The bottom line is to always protect your financial information, be careful who you share it with and act immediately if you believe your information has been comprised.
We want to hear from you! We encourage you to comment below on this blog post, share it on social media or contact a member of your service team for further discussion. You can also visit the IRS website to review its Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.