Tax identity theft happens when an identity thief manages to get hold of your personal details, along with your Social Security number, and subsequently files a forged tax return. Often, this will happen early on in the tax season and in many cases this occurs before the victim files their own official return. Before the victim realises the identity thief will have made off with their tax refund, leaving them out of pocket financially and in emotional turmoil as a result.
The situation has been exacerbated with the introduction of e-filing alongside the traditional paper filing procedure. Identity thieves can produce additional fake information to support their digital claims too and the ability to submit forms digitally means they are out of sight and better able to avoid being captured. However, help is at hand if, to start with, you invest in an identity theft software package.
Identity theft prevention software is widely available and is also very affordable, with options starting from just a few dollars a month. It’s therefore easy to tailor a package that suits your needs, because everyone has different requirements. If, for example, you have a family then identity theft packages can also be used to cover other members. Investing a few hours into what to look for in a package is time well spent, and could save you money in the long run.
While tax identity theft is becoming increasingly commonplace, there are wider issues at play here too. With so much of our lives now being online, including everything from social media profiles through to the claiming of expenses and the e-filing of our taxes plus all those other points in-between there are more opportunities for identity thieves.
Sometimes it might only be something simple that you overlook which can give an identity thief the helping hand they’ve been looking for. A frequent scenario is that you might be a victim of identity theft and not even realise it. However, over time you could start noticing unusual activity happening around your personal information. Remember that identity theft doesn’t only affect people in the run-up to tax filing time.
In fact, it can happen to anyone and at any time too. Identity theft can cover insurance theft, bank account theft and medical theft too. If fraudsters can do something with your personal information and gain financially then anything is possible.
While any kind of identity theft is going to be bad news, it’s tax-related ID theft that can cause some major issues. For a start, it’s something associated with your own personal tax affairs, and also the IRS. These are two things that can present you with serious problems if things aren’t in order. Therefore, getting yourself sorted out with an identity theft protection package is a great way to help reduce the threat.
You can also take steps to protect yourself more effectively too. Although it may not always be obvious that you might have been the victim of ID theft, you can keep an eye out for some tell-tale signs. One fairly obvious way to detect tax-related identity theft is if you attempt to file and the IRS rejects your e-filing documentation or sends you paperwork stating that a return has already been submitted.
There are other signals that should get alarm bells ringing too. The IRS may, for example, say that you have received more wages than you actually earned during a tax year. If someone has managed to get hold of your Social Security number they could also have a job and be using your information to avoid being detected. You could also get letters fro the IRS containing information that doesn’t add up, or doesn’t relate to your own personal tax situation.
Tax identity fraudsters are continually changing and adapting their tactics, so the overall picture is evolving over time too. As the IRS clamps down on one area of fraud, criminals often move on or adapt their tactics to stay ahead of the game. If you’re unfortunate enough to fall victim to identity theft there is help at hand, however, and we’ll also take a look below at the steps you’ll need to take next in order to combat any damage that might have been done.
If you have reason to believe that you’ve been the victim of tax-related identity theft you’ll want to report it as soon as possible. If may be that the IRS will get in touch with you explaining that they have spotted irregularities relating to your Social Security number and associated tax account. Alternatively, make contact with the IRS, by calling them and also by completing form 14039, which needs to be returned to the revenue service.
Make sure that you keep any records or other information relating to the issue. In addition, ensure that you keep tabs on any other areas of online activity, such as inspecting bank accounts frequently for any irregularities. Fraudsters may just be going after your tax payment, but if they have the right amount of information they may well pursue your personal finances, set up credit cards in your name and more besides.
If you’ve been careless with your Social Security number, or have simply been unfortunate to mistakenly share it via something like a phishing email then it’s also possible to contact the Social Security Administration. Try calling them on 1-800-269-0271 and explain what has happened. The sooner they can take action then the less likely fraud will continue to take place using your personal details.
This government depart has a wealth of great information and advice on what to do if you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft, so it’s well worth reading through their advice in order to reduce the threat moving forwards. And, in the meantime, take a look at those identity theft protection packages, which will hopefully help you spot any potential threats in the future.