This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

What to Do If Someone Filed Taxes Using Your Social Security Number?

Question from Connie, What to Do If Someone Filed Taxes Using Your Social Security Number?

Answer from AI:

Discovering that someone has used your Social Security Number (SSN) to file taxes and collect a refund in your name can be alarming and frustrating. This situation not only affects your ability to receive your rightful tax refund but also raises concerns about identity theft. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to address this issue and work towards securing your identity and obtaining your tax refund. Remember, while this guide provides a general overview, consulting with a legal or tax professional for personalized advice is always recommended.

Immediate Steps to Take

  1. Report the Fraud to the IRS: Contact the IRS immediately to report the fraud. You can do this by calling the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. You’ll need to fill out Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, and mail or fax it to the IRS. This form informs the IRS of the identity theft and flags your account for monitoring.
  2. Respond to Any IRS Notices: If the IRS has already sent you a notice (typically, Letter 5071C) asking you to verify your identity, follow the instructions provided in the letter. This may involve verifying your identity online or calling the IRS directly.
  3. Place Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes: Contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Consider placing a credit freeze, which stops all access to your credit report, making it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
  4. File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the identity theft to the FTC. This website also provides a personalized recovery plan.
  5. File a Police Report: Consider filing a report with your local police department. This may not always result in an investigation, but having an official report can be helpful when dealing with creditors or if legal issues arise later.

Recovering Your Tax Refund

After reporting the fraud, the IRS will begin an investigation into your case. This process can be lengthy, often taking 120 days or more. During this time, the IRS will work to verify your identity and the legitimacy of your tax return. Once your identity has been confirmed, the IRS will proceed with processing your legitimate tax return and issuing your refund. Unfortunately, there is no way to expedite this process, but you can check the status of your case by calling the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit.

Protecting Your Identity in the Future

  • Secure Your Social Security Number: Avoid carrying your Social Security card in your wallet and only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
  • Monitor Your Credit Reports: Regularly check your credit reports for any unauthorized accounts or inquiries. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus, which you can obtain through AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Use Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication: For online accounts, especially those related to financial information, use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Scams: Be cautious of emails, phone calls, or texts requesting personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text messages, or social media to request personal or financial information.

Conclusion

Dealing with tax-related identity theft can be a complex and time-consuming process. It’s important to act quickly and follow the necessary steps to report the fraud, protect your identity, and recover your tax refund. While this guide provides a general overview, individual situations can vary greatly. For personalized advice and assistance, consider consulting with a legal or tax professional.

Remember, recovering from identity theft and securing your personal information is a proactive process. By taking the steps outlined above, you can work towards resolving the immediate issue and protecting yourself against future incidents of identity theft.

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