Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Tips for keeping yourself safe from threats

There is no shortage of scams targeting both tax professionals and taxpayers. Due to the recent rise in identity theft cases, it’s important to be proactive about protecting yourself from these threats. The information below details some steps you can take to keep your sensitive data safe from identity theft.

Quick Protection Tips

Here are some tips to protect yourself from becoming a victim:

•     Don’t carry your social security card or any documents that include your social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

•     Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.

•     Protect your financial information.

•     Check your credit report every 12 months.

•     Annually review your Social Security Administration earnings statement.

•     Secure personal information in your home.

•     Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.

•     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 with whom you are dealing.

Identity Theft

Steps to take if you become a victim

If your tax return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under your SSN and you haven’t filed already, you may be a victim of tax identity theft. If this occurs, you need to report this to the IRS by following these steps:

•     Download IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.

•     Complete the form for each taxpayer that has been rejected. Note: In Section B, you’ll be checking Box 1.

•     Print the form and attach your correct tax return and form of identification.

•     Mail or fax according to the instructions.

It may take several weeks for the IRS to process Form 14039, but once it’s been processed, you’ll receive an acknowledgment letter.

If a fraudulent return is already present on your account, the IRS will send your case to the Identity Theft Victim Assistance (IDTVA) organization where it will be handled by employees who have specialized training.

Generally, you’ll receive notification that your case has been resolved within 120 days. Complex cases may take 180 days or longer.

Most tax-related identity theft victims will be placed into the Identity Protection PIN program and annually receive a new, six-digit IP PIN that must be entered on the tax return. The IP PIN adds an extra layer of identity protection.

Also note, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that all victims of identity theft take the following steps:

•     File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.

•     Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records: (1) Equifax, Equifax.com, 800.766.0008; (2) Experian, Experian.com, 888.397.3742; or (3)TransUnion, TransUnion.com, 800.680.7289

•     Contact your financial institutions and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.