What to do if you've been a victim of identity theft

Tax season presents many opportunities for would-be identity thieves. A stolen Social Security number can be used to file a fraudulent tax return and refund request. Here is what you must do if you are a victim of identity theft.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized party uses your personally identifying information, such as your name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), or credit card or bank account information to assume your identity in order to commit fraud or other criminal acts.

The best way to protect against tax scams — especially potential identity theft — is to file your tax return as soon as possible, but if you already know this has happened, these are the steps to take.

How to recover from identity theft?

One key to recovering from identity theft is to act quickly. It is important to report the theft to the right agencies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identify Theft Bureau should be the first agency you contact. https://www.identitytheft.gov

When you access the website, you will be asked some questions about your situation, and that information will be used to créate a recovery plan. Once you créate the account, the plan will be put into action by updating your plan as needed, tracking your progress, and pre-filling forms and letters for you.

The US Department of Justice says the IRS never discusses personal tax issues through unsolicited emails or texts, or over social media. So, be careful if you are contacted — by phone or email — by someone claiming to be from the IRS who says you owe money. When the IRS needs to get in touch with a taxpayer, standard practice is to send a letter via the US Postal Service. If you receive an unexpected and suspicious email from the IRS, forward it to phishing@irs.gov.
 

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