Tax return identify theft
April 17, 2014
Last week, I received a call from a client. Let’s call him Bill. It’s not his name, but that’s okay. Anyway, Bill calls and says he received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service saying that they have a refund check ready to send to him in the amount of over $8,000. That night, I go onto the Internal Revenue Service website and pull down the transcript. It doesn’t take long to realize that this is NOT the return I prepared. Something has gone astray here.
I’d quickly come to learn that Bill was a victim of identity fraud. Now, luckily in this case, the fraudsters had become sloppy. They misspelled Bill’s last name. They used his old address. And evidently, the bank account that they tried to use for the refund had closed. Thus, the refund was mailed to Bill’s old address. Thankfully, the family who bought Bill’s house was kind enough to forward the notice and the check to Bill so that we could promptly address.
The representative from the Service was unusually helpful and friendly and offered some suggestions that I thought I would share with you. First and foremost, tax return fraud is a major concern. So much so that the Service has 3,000 agents who are solely dedicated on identity theft issues. If you suspect identify fraud on your tax return:
Call your preparer (or us). Have them compare the transcript with the return that you, at least, thought you filed. It won’t take long to realize if there’s a problem.
If indeed there is a problem, contact the Internal Revenue Service (800) 908-4490. Then explain the situation so that they may notate the account.
They will have you fill out form 14039 which basically says – I’ve been a victim of identity fraud. Help. Attach that to the correct tax return and mail it in to your normal processing center with a copy of your driver’s license. They will then research and process.
That will take care of the tax return. Additionally, you should contact the following to inform that you’ve been a victim of identity fraud:
Federal Trade Commission (877) ID-THEFT
Equifax – 1-800-525-6285
Trans Union – 1-800-680-7289
Experian – 1-888-397-3742
You only need to call one agency – once you call one, they’ll call the others.
In this digital age, seemingly, access to our personal information is indeed a problem. Being aware of what to do if it should happen to you is something we believe to be very important. Many thanks.