What happens when someone uses your personal information, such as your Social Security number (SSN), to file a tax return. Tax identity theft has become more and more prevalent over the past several years It can cause some major headaches and take time to resolve. To help reduce your chances of becoming a victim, you have to know the warning signs and take the necessary steps to protect yourself
Tax Identity Theft - What you need to know!
Tax Identity Theft Warning Signs
You may not know that you're a victim of tax-related identity theft until notified by the IRS. However, there are some distinct signs which could indicate an issue such as:
· Receiving a letter from the IRS inquiring about a tax return you did not file.
· Not being able to e-file because of a duplicate SSN.
· Being notified that an IRS online account was created under your name.
· Receiving a tax transcript that you did not order.
· Being assigned an Employer Identification Number (EIN) but you did not request one.
· Receiving an IRS notice that your existing online tax account was disabled, updated, or accessed but you haven’t logged into it.
The evidence that you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft are records such as those pertaining to income or wages received from an employer who never actually employed them before. This clear indication shows someone has fraudulently obtained your Social Security number for their own purposes, so it's important not only report this but also take action immediately!
OK, what now?
If you have become a victim of tax-related identity theft, there are several steps you can take to help remedy the situation and protect your financial accounts.
1. Immediately call the IRS using the number provided in the letter you received.
2. If your tax return is rejected when you e-file due to a duplicate SSN issue, complete Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. You can use the fillable form online, print it, and attach it to your tax return. Be sure to follow all mailing instructions included on the form, as well.
3. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to file a complaint
4. Contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) and place a fraud alert on your account
5. If you believe that someone has falsely filed a tax return under your name and SSN, you can also get a copy of the return. To request the return, complete Form 4506-F. You can submit the form by mail or fax.
The IRS will acknowledge your request and typically sends you the copy within 90 days.
How to Protect Your Date & Identity
To minimize your risk of tax-related identity theft, the IRS has put together some helpful tips.
· Always treat your data like cash and never leave it lying around.
· Always lock your phone and computer, even if you’re just stepping away for a few moments.
· Install security software that updates automatically.
· Use encryption programs to protect sensitive data.
· Utilize unique, strong passwords and do not use the same one on all your accounts.
· Implement multi-factor authentication where available.
· Back up your files.
· Only provide your personal and/or financial information over encrypted websites (HTTPS).
· Be aware of email and text phishing scams.
Any taxpayer who can verify their identity may also get an Identity Protection PIN. This six-digit number offers additional protection for your SSN on your tax return.
Remember, the IRS will never initiate contact with you by email, text, or social media to request any financial information or your Identity Protection PIN. If someone calls claiming to be the IRS and threatens you with jail or a lawsuit, hang up immediately – it’s a scam.
You don't have to deal with Identity Theft alone
If you need additional guidance or have questions about your tax issue schedule an appointment with Lifeline Tax Solutions today. Our expert and courteous staff will walk you through it.