Eight Tips to Protect Taxpayers from Identity Theft
Identity theft happens when someone steals personal information for financial gain. Tax-related identity theft happens when someone uses another person’s stolen Social Security number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file a tax return to obtain a fraudulent refund.
Many people first find out they are victims of identity theft when they submit their tax returns. That’s because the IRS lets them know someone else already used their SSN to file.
The IRS continues to work hard to stop identity theft with a strategy of prevention, detection and victim assistance. So far, the agency has stopped millions of dollars from getting into the hands of thieves.
Eight Tips on How to Protect Against Identity Theft:
1. Taxes. Security. Together. The IRS, the states and the tax industry need everyone’s help. The IRS launched The Taxes. Security. Together. awareness campaign in 2015 to inform people about ways to protect their personal, tax and financial data.
2. Protect Personal and Financial Records. Taxpayers should not carry their Social Security card in their wallet or purse. They should only provide their Social Security number if it’s necessary. Protect personal information at home and protect personal computers with anti-spam and anti-virus software. Routinely change passwords for online accounts.
3. Don’t Fall for Scams. Criminals often try to impersonate banks, credit card companies and even the IRS hoping to steal personal data. Learn to recognize and avoid those fake communications. Also, the IRS will not call a taxpayer threatening a lawsuit, arrest or to demand immediate payment. Beware of threatening phone calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS.
4. Report Tax-Related ID Theft. Here’s what taxpayers should do if they cannot e-file their return because someone already filed using their SSN.
File a tax return by paper and pay any taxes owed.
File an IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Print the form and mail or fax it according to the instructions. Include it with the paper tax return and/or attach a police report describing the theft if available.
File a report with the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant. (Or Call 1-877-438-4338)
Notify your financial institutions to report the alleged identity theft.
Contact one of the three credit bureaus so they can place a fraud alert or credit freeze on the affected account.
Equifax – 1-800-525-6285
Trans Union – 1-800-680-7289
Experian – 1-888-397-3742
Check with the applicable state tax agency to see if there are additional steps to take at the state level.
- In New York State, file Form DTF-275, Identity Theft Declaration.