Tax-related identity theft often happens when a criminal uses your social security number to file your tax return before you get a chance to do so, and then ends up pocketing your refund check.
Unfortunately, most individuals don’t realize that they have been a victim of tax identity theft until they file their taxes, only to have the IRS reject them.
If you suspect that your identity has been used to file a fraudulent tax return, you need to do the following:
- Contact the IRS immediately to report the problem
- Complete and submit an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039)
- Call your tax preparation service to report the issue so that your account can be flagged
- Contact the FTC to file a complaint via identitytheft.gov
- Place a fraud alert on your credit record by contacting one of the major credit reporting companies – Experian, Transunion, or Equifax.
And, do continue to pay your taxes and file returns, even if you have to go back to filing paper returns vs online returns.
Once you’ve submitted an Identity Theft Affidavit, the IRS will work to correct the refund fraud, issue your money, and protect you from future tax-related identity theft. The whole process could take from three months to a year to resolve.
Why you should contact an attorney
Sadly, identity theft is an increasing problem in the United States. In 2021 alone, an estimated 15 million Americans had their identity stolen, according to Javelin Research. From using an individual’s Social Security number to commit tax ID identity theft to using stolen personal information to access bank accounts and to commit credit fraud, identity theft is on the rise with respect to the number of incidents each year as well as the losses.
Hopefully, after contacting the businesses that have been impacted as a result of your identity theft, they will abide by the laws concerning identity theft and work with you to repair the damage. However, there may be companies who will refuse to investigate disputed charges or return stolen money.
In some cases a credit card company may not remove unauthorized charges from your account or a credit reporting agency won’t make the necessary corrections to your credit score.
This is when you need to contact an experienced identity theft attorney.
It could cost you
In 2022, the average tax refund check was approximately $3000, even more for higher earners. Being a victim of tax-related identity theft can really put you in a financial bind if you’ve planned on using your refund check to pay down debt or to cover everyday expenses, such as paying for food and utilities or to make a mortgage or monthly rental payment.
Recovering that money and your good name can be challenging if you’ve been a victim of tax-related identity theft. Contact the Law Offices of Robert F. Brennan, APC, Los Angeles identity theft attorney, to help you recover, financially, and to repair any damage suffered.