Tax Identity Theft
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No one wants to get that unexpected call. No one walks to hear those words. No one wants to be the victim of tax identity theft. It is sad that tax identity theft is even a worry on people’s mind, but the truth is, it happens more than any other identity fraud in the country. Last year alone it was reported that 14.4 million Americans were victims of tax identity theft (Marchini, 2019). With seeing this number it is no surprise that tax identity fraud reigns over all other types of fraud at 45%. With these high numbers from last year, and the new tax season coming up the IRS is on full alert this year, and encourages you to be as well!
But you are probably wondering the same questions as the rest of America- What do I do to keep safe?
First, it is always a safe idea to get a company with extra precautions like Lifelock, Norton by Lifelock, or IDShield; but we understand these are not for everyone, and they can cost. Some simple things you can do are things like mix up your passwords, stay away from clicking on pop up links or unfamiliar websites, never give out personal information without trusting the company or website first, and always protect your documents with personal information by putting them in a safe place (O’Connell, 2018). There are also signs to lookout for that the IRS lists on their website. They state that you may not know you’re a victim of identity theft until you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return.
Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if:
- You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
- You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
- You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
- You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
- You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
- You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
- Initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information
- Call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests
- Call, email or text to request taxpayers’ Identity Protection PINs
All these things can help, but there is always a small possibility you have to worry about. In the case that you do find yourself in the situation of tax identity theft the IRS has four simple steps to take quickly to save yourself from any further harm.
If your Social Security number is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these actions:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice: Call the number provided.
- 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 IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit (PDF). Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail your return according to instructions.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov for steps you should take right away to protect yourself and your financial accounts.
See Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works for more information about how the IRS can help you (IRS.gov, 2019).
In any case, It is always smart to have a tax expert or CPA close to you for any question you may have. Being in a world with identity theft can be scary, but you should always know you are not alone. There are professionals all around that can help you through!
Call 1-833-taxanista or 480-331-3316 to get a year round CPA partner to help in any crisis you may have. You’ll never be sorry to be more educated!
Federal Trade Commission. (January 2020). Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/tax-identity-theft-awareness
IRS.gov (December 21, 2019). Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft. Internal Revenue Service. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft
Marchini, Kyle. (March 6, 2019). 2019 Identity Fraud Study: Fraudsters Seek New Targets and Victims Bear the Brunt. Javelin. https://www.javelinstrategy.com/coverage-area/2019-identity-fraud-report-fraudsters-seek-new-targets-and-victims-bear-brunt
O’Connell, Brian. (March 7, 2018). How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft. Experian. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-to-protect-yourself-from-identity-theft/