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  • Charles Prescott

The What, When, Where, and How of Tax Identity Theft

A growing problem for many is tax-related identity theft - when someone steals your personal information to commit tax fraud. Your Social Security number can be used to file a fraudulent return or to claim a refund or credit and the fraudster will receive a refund that doesn't belong to them. This, of course, can cause a number of problems for you as a taxpayer.

As taxpayer you should be aware that the IRS will not contact you via Social Media nor do they contact taxpayers by phone or email. The IRS will always contact taxpayers via letter. Identity thieves will frequently use phishing emails to trick users into providing information to use for identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission has provided a helpful list of tips to aid you in securing your information. The IRS has requested that you forward any suspected identity theft emails to phishing@irs.gov. Additionally, please report IRS impersonation scams - especially if you are a victim - to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scams Reporting.

Unfortunately, the most likely way to find out you’re a victim of identity theft when you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return. However, the early warning signs include:

  1. The IRS or a state tax authority sends you a letter about a tax return that you did not file.

  2. Your tax return won't e-file because of a duplicate Social Security number.

  3. A tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.

  4. The IRS notifies you that an online account has been created in your name.

  5. The IRS notifies that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.

  6. The IRS notifies you that you owe additional tax or refund offset.

  7. The IRS takes a collection action against you for a year you did not file a tax return.

  8. IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.

  9. If you are assigned an Employer Identification Number but you did not request an EIN.

If you have reason to believe that you are the victim of Tax Identity theft you should:

  1. Respond immediately to any IRS notice; all IRS letters have a phone number for you to call.

  2. If your e-filed return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under your Social Security number, or if the IRS instructs you to do so, complete the IRS Identity theft Afffidavit then attach the form to your return and mail your return according to instructions.

  3. Visit IdentityTheft.gov for steps you should take right away to protect yourself and your financial accounts.

Fraudulent Returns

If you believe someone has filed a fraudulent return in your name, you can get a copy of the return.

Dependents


If you e-file your tax return and get a message telling you that a dependent on your return has been claimed on another tax return or their own, or if you receive an IRS CP87A you’ll need to find out why someone else claimed your dependent.


If you are a victim of identity theft and you unable to resolve the issue with the IRS and would like assistance please contact the Prescott Law Firm.

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