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Specialized-industries

Warning Signs of Identity Theft, and What to Do if You Become a Victim

Amy Chandler, CPA

January 31, 2020

It seems that every week, I receive alerts about identity theft and tax scams – old and new – making the rounds in the form of e-mails, snail-mail, texts and phone calls.

There have been many news reports about how to protect yourself from identity theft. But how do you know if you’ve already become a victim, and what should you do if you have?

Here are some signs that your personal information has already been stolen and used by the thieves:

Tax-related signs:

  • Your e-filed tax return is rejected because a return has already been filed using your Social Security number;
  • You receive a notice from the IRS or another taxing authority, informing you that the processing of your tax return will be delayed, when you have not filed it yet;
  • You receive Form 1099-G, “Certain Government Payments”, reporting a state or local refund issued for a tax return you did not file;
  • You receive a notice informing you that you owe additional tax on income you did not earn.

Other signs:

  • Unauthorized charges appear on your credit card statements;
  • Unauthorized disbursements appear on your bank statements;
  • You receive bills for expenses you did not incur;
  • You stop receiving some bills or statements in the mail;
  • Accounts that are not yours appear on your credit report;
  • Your health insurer shows a medical condition that you do not have.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, you should immediately take the following steps:

  • Submit Form 14039, “Identity Theft Affidavit,” to the IRS (even if your information was not used to file a fraudulent tax return);
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov;
  • Place a Fraud Alert with one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion).

If you receive a notice from the IRS or another taxing authority, you should respond to it right away. If you suspect that the notice is not legitimate, you can contact the IRS at (800) 829-1040 (for individuals) or (800) 829-4933 (for businesses) instead of calling the number included in the notice. If the notice is from a state or local taxing agency, check online for the appropriate number to call. Please contact our office if you would like assistance in responding to the notice, or in submitting an Identity Theft Affidavit.

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