Kay Gotshall, CPA, Tax Senior Manager
Some of our clients have received phishing e-mails from identity thieves claiming to be the IRS or a well known software company requesting information or requesting them to click on links. Please beware. The IRS does not send e-mail to taxpayers.
The IRS has posted some helpful information to assist you in keeping your personal information safe. They have also posted information about how to protect tax refunds, detect, and resolve identity theft.
Here are some tips to protect you from becoming a victim, and steps to take if you think someone may have filed a tax return using your name:
Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents with your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on it.
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Protect your financial information.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 (Mon. – Fri., 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. local time; Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).
If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft
Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:
- More than one tax return for you was filed;
- You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return;
- IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or
- Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.
If you receive a notice from IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.
If you did not receive a notice but believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 right away so we can take steps to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN.
Also, fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. Please write legibly and follow the directions on the back of the form that relate to your specific circumstances.
In addition, we recommend you take additional steps with agencies outside the IRS:
- Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261.
- File a report with the local police.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:
- Equifax – www.equifax.com, 800-525-6285
- Experian – www.experian.com, 888-397-3742
- TransUnion – www.transunion.com, 800-680-7289
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft — http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft
The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.