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Avoid Tax Identity Theft

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form 1040It’s National Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.  This is a topic that I, unfortunately, have had personal experience with.  A few years ago, before I had filed my tax return for the year, I received a letter in the mail alerting me that someone had filed a tax return using my social security number.  Since I hadn’t filed, I knew immediately that I had been the victim of Tax Identity Theft.  The IRS had obviously already suspected that something might be a little fishy so that’s why I received a letter.  I had to send in an affidavit and a copy of my ID.  I wasn’t able to e-file and my refund was delayed for months.  It is happening to more and more people every year.

Here are a few tips to help avoid being a victim yourself:

  • Submit your tax return as early in the tax season as possible.
  • Be very selective about sharing your personal information.
  • Shred any documents that contain your social security number or other sensitive information.
  • If you use a third party to prepare your taxes, make sure it is someone you trust.

If you know or suspect your identity has been stolen, take these steps immediately:

  • Contact the IRS and let them know of your concerns.  They will instruct you on how to proceed.  You may be required to file Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • 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.

 

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