Sadly, we have become all too familiar with identity theft: someone else using your personal information without permission to commit fraud or other crimes. While most of us are familiar with “traditional” identity theft, such as someone stealing from your bank account or taking out a loan in your name, not many of us consider tax-related identity theft.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when a thief uses a taxpayer’s identity to file a fraudulent tax return and either claim a refund or avoid paying taxes. Unfortunately, you may only become aware of this when you file your return and find out the IRS has already received a return in your name.
Should this occur, the IRS will send you a notice that either
If you receive such a notice and suspect someone else used your identity, you need to respond right away.
To protect yourself in the future, do the following:
Note: The IRS will not initiate contact with you via e-mail or social media tools to obtain personal financial information.
If you suspect your identity has been stolen,
o Equifax www.equifax.com888-766-0008
o Experian www.experian.com 888-397-3742
o TransUnion www.transunion.com 800-680-7289
While most of us are not likely to be victims of identity theft, knowing the risks, being aware, and protecting ourselves are our best defenses against such a costly crime.