Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
With the deadline for filing taxes nearing – Tuesday, April 18, 2017, because the usual Tax Day of April 15 falls on a weekend – the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering a Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft to help taxpayers combat “tax-related identity theft” that occurs when someone uses a stolen Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
The IRS – the nation’s tax collection agency – has joined with states and the tax industry to enact new safeguards and take additional actions to combat tax-related identity theft. Many of these safeguards will be invaluable to the fight against identity theft. Taxpayers should be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if they are contacted by the IRS or a tax professional about:
- More than one tax return was filed using your SSN.
- You owe additional tax, 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 wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work.
Taxpayers may be unaware that they are victims of tax-related identity theft until they efile their return and discover that a return already has been filed using their SSN, or the IRS may send them a letter identifying a suspicious return using their SSN. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends the following steps for victims of tax-related identity theft:
- 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 (1-800-766-0008); Experian (1-888-397-3742); and TransUnion (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.
The IRS recommends taxpayers with a compromised SSN who know or suspect they are victims of tax-related identity theft should respond immediately to any IRS notice, call the number provided, and complete the IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Identity theft victims who previously contacted the IRS but had no resolution should call 1-800-908-4490.
Taxpayers may reduce their risk of identity theft by using strong passwords and security software with firewall and anti-virus protections, not clicking on links or attachments from suspicious emails, and avoiding phishing emails and calls or texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations. The IRS Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft is at www.irs.gov/uac/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft.
IRS Tax Scams Just One Form of Identity Theft
Tax-related scams are just one form of identity theft. Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a leading global background check provider, undergoes an annual SOC 2 Audit Report that confirms ESR meets high standards for protecting the security, privacy, and confidentiality of personal information used for background checks. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com.
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