Tax identity theft can happen when a bad person gets your Social Security Number and uses it to file a tax return using your information but they get the tax refund.
Not all criminals who steal Social Security Numbers are strangers. Family, friends, and roommates have easy access to your personal information as well. I’ve seen many cases where the crook was someone the victim knew.
Since you only file a tax return once a year you will not know you are the victim of tax identity theft until you file your next tax return and expect to get a refund.
If the criminal beat you to filing a fake tax return and obtained a refund you won’t know this happened until the IRS sends you a letter and tells you you’ve already received a refund.
That’s when the shock hits you and you learn you are an identity theft victim. Repairing the mess the criminal has created is not going to be easy for you.
The first thing you are going to have to deal with is the tax refund you were expecting, is not on the way and won’t be for some time.
If you were counting on a big tax refund to meet expenses or pay for something new, put those dreams on hold.
Do This Now If You Are a Victim of Tax Identity Theft
File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 800-525-6285
Experian, www.Experian.com, 888-397-3742
TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 800-680-7289
Contact your banks and creditors, and close any bank or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
If you suspect you are the victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends you take these steps:
Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided in the letter you get in the mail.
It’s going to take time to fix this mess. It takes time to recover from this type of crime. It will make your financial life tougher to deal with.
If a scammer has your Social Security Number they can also apply for new credit in your name as well.
Besides placing a fraud alert on your credit bureau files you should think about placing a credit freeze on them as well.
A fraud alert on your credit report lasts for 90 days while a credit freeze last until you remove the lock on your account.
With a credit freeze, no one – including you – can access your credit report to open new accounts. You’ll get a PIN number to use each time you want to freeze and unfreeze your account to apply for new credit.