Tax time is not a favorite time of the year for most people, especially those who plan on owing money to the Federal or state government. What can make filing taxes even worse, however, is discovering that you have been a victim of identity theft and tax return fraud while attempting to file. Often times, victims of identity theft find out when they go to file their tax returns and receive a notification from the government that the return has already been filed. This occurs when the identity thief has preemptively filed the return in the hopes of receiving any refund that the real taxpayer may have been entitled to.
If this has recently happened to you, then you may understandably be feeling confused, angry, and violated. It is important, in such a situation, to remain calm and follow the necessary steps so that you can get the situation resolved as quickly as possible.
Notify the Government
The first step you should take upon finding that a tax return has already been filed on your behalf is to double check with the IRS to ensure that there was not a mistake with your return. While this is a rare occurrence, it does happen from time to time, so be sure to double check before jumping to any conclusions.
If it turns out that you have, in fact, been a victim of identity theft, notify the IRS of the discrepancy. From there, you will most likely be asked to fill out IRS Form 14039, which if an identity theft affidavit. This form will officially notify the IRS of your situation so that it can be reviewed. Once the IRS determines that you have, in fact, been a victim of identity theft, you will be notified and will then be able to re-file your taxes.
Notify Your Credit Bureaus
Once your tax situation is resolved with the IRS, it is still important to place a credit alert on your social security number so as to prevent future credit cards or other lines of credit from being opened using your personal information. To do this, contact the thee main credit bureaus: Equifax, Trans-union, and Experian. They will be able to place an alert on your account and will request your approval any time a new account or line of credit is attempted to be opened in your name.
If you find fraudulent charges on any of your bank accounts, you will also need to dispute these with your respective credit card companies and banks. Most banks will not hold you responsible for the charges if it can be proven that they were fraudulent.
Overall, dealing with identity theft and tax fraud can be a real pain. However, by following the right steps and notifying the correct people, you can overcome this obstacle in your life. In the future, be especially careful about who you provide your personal information to so as to avoid a re-occurrence.