Once again, tax time has rolled around, and though you technically have until April 15th, it’s always best to file a bit earlier…especially if you want to avoid setting yourself up for ID theft.
How Could Filing Taxes Compromise Your Identity?
Here’s how you could become a victim of ID theft just by filing your taxes: the first method is that a thief uses your Social Security number to file taxes, and then they steal your refund. The second method that they use is they take your Social Security number, get a job while using your Social Security number, and then their employer reports that income to the IRS. When that happens, the IRS gets your return, flags it as suspicious, and you could get a big tax bill in the process.
Of course, in either case, you could face some big problems. You could, for instance, be unable to file your own tax return or collect your refund…at least for a while until the IRS sorts it out. You also might find that the thief has used your Social Security number to get credit cards, loans, or other cash that will wreck your credit.
How do Thieves Get Your Information?
The big question here is this: how do the ID thieves get your Social Security number in the first place? Generally, they do it by hacking. For instance, do you remember the Equifax hack from 2017? Millions of people were affected, and you, too, could have been involved in that. It’s possible that thieves could get your Social Security info from hacks just like this one.
What to Do if You are a Victim
If you learn that you are a victim of tax ID theft, there are some things that you can do.
- Fill out Letter 5071C – This is a form that the IRS sends if it feels like your tax return is suspicious.
- Fill out Form 14039 – This form alerts the IRS that you believe you are a victim or potential victim of tax ID or regular ID theft.
- Get an Identity Protection PIN – This is a number that the IRS can give you to confirm your identity on any future returns.
- Report to the Federal Trade Commission – You should also file a report at IdentityTheft.gov to alert the FTC of the situation.
- Contact your state’s tax office – Also, make sure to contact the tax office in your state. It might have other recommendations for you.
If you have tried to e-file and get a rejection, you should still file a paper return via mail. Also, call the IRS Identity Protection Unit for help. An agent can get you started on taking care of the issue and make sure your taxes are filed appropriately.
ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity Protection security awareness training program.