Unfortunately, tax season is when many Americans find out that their identifying information was fraudulently used by a crook. An unexpected message from the Internal Revenue Service could be a warning sign that your Social Security number is being misused by an identity thief, warns the Federal Trade Commission.
Consumers should always be alert to signs of identity theft, and that includes tax-related identity theft.
If you receive a notice from the IRS that more than one tax return was filed in your name, it could mean that someone else is using your identity and you should contact the IRS right away. This can occur if someone used your SSN to claim your refund before you filed your tax return. You are unlikely to be aware of this until you receive a letter from the IRS that your return was already filed for the year.
Another tip-off that your identity may have been stolen is a notice from the IRS showing you were paid by an employer you didnít work for - report that to the IRS immediately also. This can occur if someone else uses your SSN to get a job - possibly in an effort to avoid paying their own taxes. It will appear to the IRS that you didnít claim all of your income on your tax return, so they will send a letter notifying you of unreported income with an employer you donít know.
If you think youíve been a victim of identity theft, contact the name and number on your IRS notice right away. If you think you have tax issues related to identity theft, let the IRS know as soon as possible, even if you donít have any evidence that itís affected your tax return. Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.
Phishing scams are another thing to be on the lookout for - identity thieves may send emails that appear to be from the IRS to try to get you to give up your personal information. The IRS says they generally does not contact taxpayers by email. If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to email@example.com.
Identity theft is always a hassle and a potentially costly ordeal. By dealing with it as soon as you are aware or suspect that it has happened, you can help stop it before it gets any worse.
Federal Trade Commission
Internal Revenue Service