Here are some tips to protect you from becoming a victim, and steps to take if you think someone may have filed an income tax return using your name.
Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft:
1. Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
2. Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
3. Protect your financial information.
4. Check your credit report every 12 months.
5. Secure personal information in your home.
6. Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
7. 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, extension 245 (Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. local time; Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific time).
If you believe that 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:
1. More than one tax return for you was filed;
2. 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;
3. IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or
4. Your state or Federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.
If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.
If you did not receive an IRS notice but believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245 immediately so that the IRS 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.
If you have any questions about this post, need help with your budget, or need to get your personal finances under control, please don’t hesitate to call our office. Don’t struggle on your own — confidential personal financial coaching and counseling services are available.
SMART MONEY TIPS are published to provide practical personal financial tips relating to budgeting, saving, spending, debt, credit, financial wellness, planning for the future, and other personal finance topics. For comments or questions, please e-mail us at at Linda@financialfreedomcoaching.com. We are located in the Tampa Bay, Florida area and are dedicated to educating you to take control of your personal finances and financial future. Services include confidential personal financial coaching and mentoring, personal financial counseling, and financial education through financial literacy seminars. Linda A. Stortz is a CPA and financial literacy advocate, having earned the Accredited Financial Counselor, Certified Credit Counselor, and Certified Credit Report Reviewer credentials. For more tips, please go to http://www.financialfreedomcoaching.com.
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Linda A Stortz