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Fighting Tax-Related Identity Theft

HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 17, 2015



Fighting Tax-Related Identity Theft
Tax Related Identity Theft

‘Tis the season to file tax returns! ‘Tis also the season for con artists to use other people’s Social Security Numbers (SSN) for filing false tax returns.

This con, supposedly at its very worst this year (2015), is simple: someone somehow obtains your SSN, files a tax return with it and has your tax refund electronically deposited or sent to an address he/she can access. By the time you realize that you’ve been swindled (usually by a notice that your tax return is the 2nd received by the IRS), the fraudster is long gone and tough to trace. This scam is so easy and lucrative that it is supposedly a new favorite of gangs and drug dealers.

Is this a widespread problem? I’ll give one illustrative example: worldwide, there are only 42 people known to be 112 years old; however, the SSNs are still active for approximately 6,500,000 112-year-old Americans! Apparently, the SSNs of millions of long-dead Americans are still being used by somebody for credit, for employment, for tax returns, etc.

How, then, can you avoid or at least minimize your risk of tax-related identity theft?

First, don’t be a sitting duck. Don’t regularly tote anything having your SSN (including your Social Security card). Don’t give out your SSN unless you deem it necessary; protect your information online and offline; check your credit reports; check your Social Security Administration (SSA) earning statement here: U.S. Social Security Earning Statement
Don’t give out personal information unless you contacted the questioner or know who he/she is.

Secondly, be alert. Did you receive an IRS notice of 2 or more tax returns being filed for the same period with your SSN? Did you receive an IRS notice of owing additional taxes, a refund offset or a collection action against you for a year you didn’t file? Is there a record (usually with the IRS) that you were paid by someone or some organization for which you did not work? Did someone claiming to be an IRS agent contact you by e-mail, text or social media for personal information (which the IRS will never do)? Those are all warning signs that you have been targeted by an identity thief.

Third, act! Call the local cops and file an identity theft report. File an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-2 Place a “fraud alert” on your credit records:
Equifax: https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp
Experian: https://www.experian.com/consumer/cac/FCRegistration.do?alertType=INITIAL_ALERT
TransUnion: http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/fraud-alerts.page
Close any accounts started without your permission or somehow altered. Respond to any IRS notices at the phone number(s) provided.
Work with the IRS by: submitting an identity theft affidavit (Form 14039), found here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf and calling the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit @ 800-908-4490.
Finally, if you have been contacted by someone impersonating an IRS agent, file a report with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration here: http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml

DO’S AND DON’TS

DON’T be a sitting duck:
DON’T carry your SSN around;
DON’T give out your SSN unless it is necessary;
DO protect your personal information online and offline;
DO check your credit reports
DO Social Security Administration (SSA) earning statement here: U.S. Social Security Earning Statement
DON’T give out personal information unless you contacted the questioner or know who he/she is.

DO be alert for the signs that someone has or is attempting to obtain/use your personal information.

DO act:
DO call the local cops and file an identity theft report;
DO file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-2
DO place a “fraud alert” on your credit records:
--Equifax: https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp
--Experian: https://www.experian.com/consumer/cac/FCRegistration.do?alertType=INITIAL_ALERT
--TransUnion: http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/fraud-alerts.page
DO close any accounts started without your permission or somehow altered.
DO respond to any IRS notices at the phone number(s) provided;
DO work with the IRS by:
submitting an identity theft affidavit (Form 14039), found here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf and
calling the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit @ 800-908-4490;
DO report someone impersonating an IRS agent by filing a report with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration here: http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml


By Kathy Catanzarite


Source: Kathy Catanzarite - Handelonthelaw.com Staff Writer

Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.





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