Tax-related identity theft is something we’ve all heard of. Unfortunately, some people get to have first-hand experience of it by losing their personal details to criminals. If someone manages to get their hands on your personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth and, worse still, Social Security number, there could be problems lying ahead.
You can take some precautionary measures, such as investing in an identity theft protection software package. These can be handy for keeping tabs on things like your credit reports, and often come with other useful tools built into the software suite that allow you to manage things like internet security and your internet usage with a built in VPN.
There are many variations on the theme, but get yourself an identity theft protection package and you’ll have a head start on managing your personal and tax data. On top of that, you’ll want to be a little more diligent on the security front by taking another look at what you do with your information. Just by taking a few simple steps to lockdown personal details and being a little more stealthy with your data could pay dividends over time.
If you’re one of the millions of US citizens who has to go through the process of tax filing each year then this is a process that is gradually being made harder for fraudsters to infiltrate. However, tax-related identity theft is still an issue, which is probably why the IRS continues to try and make its systems as robust as possible. You’ll need to make a bit of an effort from your end too though.
Thankfully the IRS has now come up with a way of allowing you to boost the safety and security of your identity and associated data. If you’re using an online application to get your tax filing done its latest option means that you can log in with your username, password and a third personal item. This is likely to be a phone number. Unsurprisingly, if you use this trio of secure options then your identity can be kept much safer.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of threats out there that you need to be aware of. Many cases of tax-related identity theft can initially go unnoticed and it’s often not until you try and e-file your tax return that problems can be flagged up. The most common issue is when an individual tries to file their tax return and the IRS system rejects it. Often this will be because a fraudster has already tried to file one on your behalf.
Even if this does happen you’ve still for to pay your taxes and file a tax return, which could mean that you have to go down the avenue of submitting a paper version. This might seem like an alien concept if you’ve been used to the convenience of e-filing over the last few years, but unfortunately this is one of the hassle factors of being the victim of tax-related ID theft. Thankfully though the IRS does have a good range of helpful measures that can be called upon to limit that damage that’s been done.
Your Social Security number is important for several reasons, so if you think it has been stolen or you’re suspicious that it may be being used for fraudulent reasons you’ll want to act fast. If you get a notice from the IRS in relation to its use then be sure to respond as soon as you can by calling the number that comes with the notification in the mail.
The same goes if you find your e-filed tax return is rejected, which will be a clear indication that someone else has tried to file using your details. If that happens you’ll need to complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit . This is a fillable form that can be found at IRS.gov, which then needs to be sent with a paper version of your tax return to the address that the Internal Revenue Service will give you when they get in touch.
Usefully, the IRS has copies of everything submitted to it, which means that it will also have any fraudulent tax return that has been filed in your name. You can actually get a copy of this document, although some parts of it may be concealed, but it will enable you to see the main content. The best thing about this is that it will allow you to piece together whether or not someone has been submitting a fraudulent return.
The IRS has a whole page dedicated to explaining how to request this information, and what the process entails. To summarise the process; you’ll first need to complete a Form 4506-F, which will also need to have your name and Social Security number on it. You’ll need to provide your mailing address along with specifying the tax year, or years, of the fraudulent returns you are applying to see. Finally, you must supply your signature.
Needless to say, any matter that could point towards fraudulent behaviour and matters of identity theft are very serious, so requests can take time. This is especially so if investigations are still ongoing. The IRS states that it will acknowledge your request within 30 days of receiving it. You should also get the return itself or receive a follow up reply within 90 days.
However, with the IRS currently working through a backlog there is every possibility this might take longer than usual. In the meantime, don’t forget that you still have a requirement to file your tax return and also pay any outstanding tax amounts. You’ll still need to meet the same deadlines as everyone else, which if you’re battling with the stress of the situation might seem like a tall order.
Nevertheless, it’s crucial to try and supply all of the correct information to the IRS in a timely fashion. The IRS website has a mountain of useful information for helping you get through identity theft, which should therefore be your first port of call if you’re looking for guidance during what can be a hugely stressful time.