Even if you are incredibly careful and avoid tax scams like the societal plague they are, there’s still always a risk that your personal details can be stolen and used to commit tax fraud. However, if there is a silver lining to that situation at all, it is that it’s one of the easiest ways to find out that your social security number has been hijacked by some identity-theft criminal because you won’t be able to file your own return. The IRS will quickly send you word that you’ve already filed a return, and although the process of getting it all fixed is drawn out and nerve-wracking, the IRS will actually put a lot of effort into helping you get everything straightened out.
If you find your identity has been stolen and used for tax fraud, the IRS has advice you should be taking immediately:
Steps to take if you become a victim
- File a report with law enforcement.
- Sign up for a credit monitoring plan to receive alerts of additional fraud & watch your credit reports
- Report identity theft at www.ftc.gov and learn how to respond to it at identitytheft.gov.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
- Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285
- Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
- Contact your financial institutions, and close any accounts opened without your permission or tampered with.
If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, take these additional steps:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then mail or fax according to instructions.
- Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.