Not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ you will be a victim of ID theft

Tamra-Newman
Tamra Newman, CPA, CVA

With tax-related identity theft skyrocketing, and over a third of tax returns being filed in the last few weeks of tax season, a huge number of taxpayers can expect to discover soon that someone has stolen their ID and filed a bogus tax return in their name. This means that it is no longer a question of “if” your identity will be stolen, but “when” it will be. The question is, what to do then?

The following are actions we recommend you take:

  • Don’t delay — The longer ID thieves have to operate, the more havoc they can wreak.
  • Notify the FTC — The first place to go when someone’s ID has been stolen is the Federal Trade Commission to file a report. Start by visiting IdentityTheft.gov.
  • File a police report — Victims will also want to have a police report and a report number for various filings with other agencies.
  • Alert the credit agencies — Apart from the tax problems, ID theft can seriously impact the victim’s credit, so it’s important to alert one of the three major credit ratings agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Filing an extended fraud alert will make sure they get two free reports a year for seven years. Placing a credit or security freeze on their report will make it difficult for ID thieves to open accounts.FTC
  • Call the IRS — If you receive communication from the Internal Revenue Service concerning possible fraudulent activity on your account, call the IRS and provide the information requested. If you are unable to reach the IRS via the phone number provided, contact the ID Protection Specialized Unit and 800-908-4490.
  • File an affidavit — You may be asked to file a Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS. This form is for one person only. If more than one person’s identy in your household has been compromised, each person should file an affidavit.
  • Contact Taxpayer Advocate Service — If you are not satisfied with the IRS, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service at 877-777-4778.
  • Obtain copy of fraudulent return — For the first time, victims of fraudulent returns can request a redacted copy of the fraudulent return. Instruction can be found at www.irs.gov.

One final piece of advice: Keep good records through the entire recovery process.

Source: Accounting Today, April 20, 2016

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