With the individual filing deadline on May 17th quickly approaching, some people may go to file their tax return, or even an extension, and find that it is being rejected because a tax return has already been filed with their social security number.
This is one of the main ways a taxpayer may discover they have become a victim of identity theft. Another way someone may find out their identity has been stolen is by being notified by the IRS Taxpayer Protection Program that a suspicious tax return has been filed with their information. The IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance website provides information on how the recovery process works depending on whether you tell the IRS you may have been a victim of identity theft or if the IRS notifies you that there is a suspicious tax return with your name on it.
With stories about hackers and data breaches in the news more frequently in recent years, it is no surprise that some people are taking advantage of their access to this stolen information to file fraudulent tax returns and claim refunds they know are not rightfully theirs.
But it is not always a total stranger that perpetrates these identity theft crimes, sometimes it might be someone you know and trust, like a close friend, neighbor, or even a relative. This means you need to be extra vigilant about looking out for any signs that something like this may be happening to you or individuals close to you, like a parent or other elderly relative.
It is important to remember that the IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text, or social media to request personal or financial information; call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests; call, email, or text to request taxpayers’ Identity Protection PINs. If you receive any phone calls about any of these items, immediately hang up on the caller and make sure not to provide them with any sensitive personal information, such as your date of birth or social security number.
Identity theft is not just limited to tax returns these days either. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing more individuals to make use of their unemployment benefits, some people are taking advantage of this situation to make fraudulent unemployment claims. Someone is making claims for unemployment payments using your information and the only time you get an idea that something is wrong is when you received a 1099-G in the mail at tax time listing a lot of money that you yourself did not receive.
If you suspect this has happened to you or someone you know, you can visit the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance webpage dedicated to fraud and identity theft. It will provide you with information on how to report possible fraudulent activity with your unemployment account in Minnesota or another state if needed. It also contains a list of frequently asked questions that may arise related to issues of fraud related to unemployment.
The IRS provides a Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft that is a good resource to learn the signs of identity theft and what to look out for, measures to take to protect your data and identity, and actions to take if you ever do become a victim of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission also has a website, IdentityTheft.gov, that provides tips, resources, and guidance on what you should do if you discover you have been a victim of identity theft. The website will help you develop a personal recovery plan based on your specific situation and help you track your progress towards getting everything remedied.
If you have any questions related to the items discussed in this article or believe that you may have been a victim of identity theft yourself, please do not hesitate to reach out to your SDK contact for more information or guidance on how to start the resolution process.