It happened again this tax season. We received notification that a client had already filed a tax return with the IRS, when we know she didn’t. She was the victim of identity theft. Unfortunately, this is a growing ‘enterprise’ and you can expect to be affected sooner or later. So what do you do if someone steals your identity?
Get a notebook. Make a log of everything you do, who you talk to, when, about what, etc. Keep copies of every report or letter you send or receive in the notebook. This problem will take some time to fix and having everything in one place will save you time and frustration.
Contact the 3 credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) and have them issue a fraud alert and attach it to your statement. Also, have them send you copies of your credit report. They are free when you place the alert and the companies will ask for your social security number. Review the reports and report anything suspicious back to the bureau. Time is of the essence on this step.
Call the police. Write down the name of the local police officer who responds, and provide as much detail as you can, including all fraudulently accessed accounts. Make several copies of the police report.
Fill out an Identity Theft Victim’s Complaint and Affidavit. This is available at www.ftc.gov/idtheft
For falsely filed tax returns, contact the IRS immediately. The IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit has a toll free number of 1-800-908-4490. There is also a form to fill out, IRS ID Theft Affidavit Form 14039, which can be found at the IRS website.
For State of Michigan returns, the state requires a letter or e-mail with the following information:
Name, Address, last 4 digits of your social security number, and a brief description of what happened. Be sure to include your phone number.
Mail to: Identity theft Unit
Income Tax Division
PO Box 30477
Lansing, MI 48909
E-mail to: Treasury-ReportIDTheft@michigan.gov
Remember that there are also other ways for someone to use and abuse your identity, including medical insurance identity theft and using your child’s social security number. Check your billing statements for insurance, credit cards and get a copy of your child’s credit report.
Be careful with your information and act quickly if you suspect someone is using your information for false purposes. Stay safe!