The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that in tax year 2013, fraudulent tax refunds misdirected to identity thieves was about $5.8 billion and impacted over 2.4 million U.S. taxpayers. This fraudulent activity has continued to rapidly expand since 2013, but the good news is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has developed ways of detecting and guarding against identity theft.
You may be receiving this Fact Sheet because:
- You received correspondence that indicates that you may have experienced an event involving your personal information that will affect your federal tax records, or
- Upon the attempted electronic submission of your federal income tax return to the IRS, it has come to our attention that a tax return was previously filed under your tax identification number, indicating that your identity with the IRS has been compromised.
The correspondence you might have received is Letter 4883C, which alerts you to the fact the IRS and asks you to confirm whether or not the tax return they received was legitimate. They ask you to contact them at 1-800-830-5084 to discuss the matter. This is probably the most direct way to deal with the situation. In our experience, they will require you to “paper file” the current year tax return, because they will not accept an electronically filed tax return in any case. They should take care of all of the steps required for you to authenticate your access, including providing you with a secure Identity Protection-Personal Identification Number (IP-PIN) which we will need to use for future tax returns.
If we discover that a tax return was previously filed, we will prepare or ask you to prepare Form 14039. Identity Theft Affidavit, which you can obtain from the IRS web site at: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf. We will attach this form to your tax return and mail according to the instructions in order for your tax return to be processed as efficiently as possible.
If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact us for specialized assistance at 1-800-908-4490.
If you are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends these steps:
- File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
- Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-766-0008
- Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
- Contact your financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your
permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
Preventing Identity Theft
There are several things you can do to reduce the chances of identity theft:
Secure private personal information.
Safeguard family names and birthdates, account numbers, passwords, and Social Security numbers. Carefully consider all requests to provide your Social Security number before giving it out and don’t hesitate to ask why your private information is being requested. Secure your Social Security card in a safe or safety deposit box and never in your purse or wallet. Proactively shred all documents that contain personal data before disposing of them, even solicitations and “junk” mail that may unknowingly contain account numbers and personal information.
Monitor personal information shared on social media.
Cybercriminals methodically gather data from online sources, including commonly used identifiers such as birthdate, maiden name, pet name, hometown, significant other, and/or children’s information. Be cautious who you communicate with online and be selective before accepting electronic invitations from people you do not know or recognize. Separate what you post publicly from what you post with your personal contacts. Do not post personal and family data.
Secure your computer.
Use current versions of antivirus, malware protection, and firewalls and update these programs frequently. Consider having this software updated automatically, as well as using different computers for business and finances than you do for social media and personal matters. Use strong passwords, change them frequently, and do not share them with others. Review IRS Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers, for additional tips.
Beware of impersonators.
Criminals utilize sophisticated computer technology, such as dialers and automated questions, to contact thousands of targets daily. Do not provide personal information to callers you do not know. If any caller requests that you verify personal information, be extremely cautious and ask for further confirmation of their identity, such as their telephone number, website, email address, supervisor’s name, and mailing address. The IRS never initiates contact by telephone.
Beware of unsolicited emails and current phishing scams.
Don’t open attachments or electronic links unless you know the sender. Internet sites should have a lock symbol to show the site is encrypted. Always beware of entering sensitive data. Forward emails received from IRS impersonators to firstname.lastname@example.org. The IRS never initiates contact by email, text message, or social media channels. For more guidance on phishing scams, go to irs.gov/uac/report-phishing.
Monitor your personal information.
Review your bank and credit card statements often. You may discover your identity has been stolen include:
- Finding purchases on your credit card that you did not make
- Discovering withdrawals from an account that you did not make
- Seeing that your address has been changed for certain accounts, or no longer receiving your regular bills. (Cyber criminals may change your address when filing a return.)
Use caution when electronically transmitting financial information.
No sensitive tax or personal information should be sent via unsecured email, even information being transmitted to CPAs, bankers, and/or financial advisors. A secure portal, encrypted email, or physical mailing of sensitive information is necessary.
Order your free annual credit report.
Call 1-877-322-8228 or go to www.annualcreditreport.com to request your report and/or search for creditors you do not know. Choose to use only the last four digits of your Social Security number on your report. Consider placing a credit card freeze on your account so only creditors you approve are allowed to access your file.
Additional information is available from: https://www.irs.gov/uac/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance in assisting with your identity theft issues.