Tax season is here. It’s time to get your files and forms in order. You may be well-versed in W-2s and 1099’s, but do you know that an identity thief can mess up your tax files or even get to your tax refund before you can file for it?
ax-related ID theft can happen in a few ways; all of them involve your Social Security Number (SSN). If someone uses your SSN to get a job, the employer reports that person’s income to the IRS using your SSN. When you file your tax return, you don’t include those earnings. The IRS doesn’t know those wages were reported by an employer you don’t know, so the agency would send you a notice or letter saying you didn’t report that income.
Sometimes an identity thief uses your SSN to file for — and get — your tax refund before you file. Then, when you file your return, IRS records show the first filing and the refund. You’ll get a notice or letter from the IRS saying more than one return was filed for you.
If this happens to you — or if the IRS sends you any notice or letter indicating a problem — contact them immediately. Visit the IRS online or call 1-800-908-4490. Specialists will help you get your tax return filed, get you any refund you may be due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.
One additional point: the IRS never starts contact with a taxpayer using email, text, or social media that asks for personal or financial information. If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, do yourself a favor: don’t reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On February 20 and 21, 2013, the FTC, federal and state enforcement agencies, and consumer advocacy groups will hold a series of Town Halls in South Florida to discuss how to combat tax-related ID theft.
If you suspect identity theft, learn more about how to repair the damage.