Identity theft or tax return fraud can be one of the most time-consuming situations to repair once you become a victim. The IRS has identified at least 642,000 cases of identity theft since last year.
Although there is no way to completely protect yourself from identity theft or tax return fraud, here are some suggestions that may definitely keep you from becoming a victim:
- Shred your personal information before you throw it away
- Do not reply to emails asking for personal information (they usually pose as your bank or credit card company
- Do NOT give your credit card or social security number to anyone who initiates contact and solicits goods or services to you over the phone or by email
- Do not give your personal info or credit card number to people from overseas who claim they are going to remove a virus from your computer
- they are usually the ones who put the virus there in the first place
- Use a paid email service provider
- Be careful who you wire money to
- Stay away from public computers as much as possible
- Make sure your WiFi network is secure
- Change your computer passwords every few months
- Research any charity before giving them your money or information
- Check your credit once a year for unusual activity
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. (you do not have to sign up for a membership or pay anything for this – It is your right)
- To order, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. Or download the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Things that don’t typically put you at risk for identity theft:
- Electronic bill paying
- Online banking (these sites are extremely secure)
Things that do NOT work to prevent identity theft:
- Expensive or any fraud protection software installed on your computer
- Calling your credit card company and having no identifiable information to provide them with and then denying them your social security number over the phone.
- Expensive fraud protection services
I hope this helps! If I missed any, let me know.
I have received a lot of comments from my readers because their electronically filed tax returns are being rejected due to an incorrect adjusted gross income or AGI. They don’t know their correct AGI because they were victims of identity theft last year and the AGI the IRS is looking for is the adjusted gross income that the thief submitted (go figure!).
One would think that the IRS would not expect a person to submit information they have no possible way of having access to – but that would be, as my mother would say, too much like right.
Nevertheless, it seems there are some options so keep hope alive! You can call the IRS and beg them to give you the AGI that the thief reported OR you have the option of obtaining Continue reading
“Victims of Identity Theft and Other Vulnerable Taxpayers” is just one of the many article headings found in a very interesting PDF (document) I found online while trying to find answers about how to handle the problem some of my visitors are having with their AGI (adjusted gross income) not being accepted due to the erroneous AGI given to the IRS and kept on record due to a fraudulent tax return being filed on their behalf (yeah right) in 2012.
The title of the document is “2012 Annual Report to Congress” and was put together by the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Wow, I didn’t even know we had one of those! Yes, I know. I don’t know everything and probably know closer to next to nothing, but at least I try.
Anyway, this executive summary is 78 pages long and I definitely don’t have time to read it all. However, I did read a few of the key pages that pertain to us “tax return/identity theft” victims and was proud to see that the Taxpayer Advocates were going in on the IRS like Frank Ocean went in on Chris Brown’s body guard outside a Westlake studio in LA.
Hello Everyone – especially my IRS fraud victim peers.
We all know what time it is don’t we? Its tax return filing time. Some of us have been fortunate enough to have received the tax return dividends we had ripped from up under our noses last year and some of us unfortunately have not.
If your tax return was stolen last year and you’ve been able to stay on the IRS’ ass, then you may have received your IRS PIN number. If you haven’t, then you need to get back on their ass and ride them like untamed mare until they send you your pin number. I got mine in December just as they promised. I’m hoping that this will rectify the issue of some idiotic thief being able to steal my tax return another year.
The good news is (or at least it seems that way) that with this IRS PIN number, you should be able to file your return electronically. I’m almost afraid to do it electronically, but what the hell, after all the research I’ve done on the whole IRS electronic filing process it seems like its not the initial electronic process that’s responsible for your or my tax return being stolen, its more or less the fact that the IRS has not taken the proper steps to review and verify tax payers documentation before winding out a check – and its not that they never verify it, its that they send out the checks first and then verify the information six months down the road. In other words, the IRS policies help fuel tax return fraud.
One of my visitors (Julie) asked me two very good questions and I responded to them in a reply. I also thought I should add my responses to her questions as a post for everyone to see.
Julie’s questions were:
Do people find out who steal their tax refund? Is this a long process?
This is my response to Julie’s questions:
Some people do find out who stole their tax returns – them finding out is typically not on purpose. Every once in a while a police officer or someone at the IRS will slip up and tell you or you may find out by some other means. But neither law enforcement or the IRS are legally allowed to tell you. I am guessing this is to avoid you tracking someone down and ringing their damn neck.
As far as how long the entire process takes – well it took me only seven months. I consider Continue reading
Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been working on making ends meet and trying to survive. Well, I am happy to say that I did finally get my tax return back on September 25 of this year. This part of the whole “stolen tax return” wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It only took about seven and a half months after my reporting it stolen until I got it and I’ve heard of people not getting theirs back for up to two years or not at all. One thing I will tell you though is that you have to stay on top of it. You must keep calling the IRS about every three weeks. Each time I called them they told me that there was another necessary step that should have already been implemented that had not been implemented yet but that since I was calling now they would make sure to start that “next” process (whatever it was).
So after about 15 follow-up phone calls, patience and making sure that I made sure that the next step of the process was completed and following up on that, I was finally able to get it back. It seems to me that the main step of the process is getting your case assigned to an IRS fraud case worker – this was the part that took the longest. Once I got a caseworker she was very much on the case and made things happen as long as I followed up with her.
For the first time in about a month I had time to call the IRS to find out whether they have actually received my mailed tax return along with the affidavit and identification. I had to call because there is no information online. I didn’t think they would be able to tell me anything on the phone either, but I assumed it was worth a try.
After holding (on speakerphone of course) for a little over 15 minutes in an attempt to reach the Identity Theft section of the IRS, I was greeted by a very nice representative who verified that I was who I said I was through a series of identification questions and then proceeded to tell me that “Yes” they (the IRS) have received my affidavit and information through the mail. I also asked if I would actually get my return and if so when might I expect it or if he might have an estimated time-frame. He assured me that I would definitely receive it eventually but that the time-frame could vary anywhere from four months to a little over a year. I also inquired about the possibility of receiving a PIN number to avoid future incidents and he told me that PIN numbers would be issued somewhere around November for current victims to avoid repeat victimization on subsequent tax returns.
He (the IRS representative) seemed or sounded very nervous when I began to question him. I didn’t want him to feel like I was picking on him because it definitely is not his fault that the IRS has failed to handle their business.
Forget about millions, we are now looking at Billions in tax payer’s money gone to criminals. Mind you, the billion amount has a big fat “S” on the end of it!
A very interesting article titled “Identity thieves will rake in billions in stolen tax refunds this year” at Nextgov.com states that, “For the past five years, the IRS has received negative audits from the Government Accountability Office for ongoing security weaknesses that could compromise sensitive taxpayer information” - some of these statements were from the prepared testimony of J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration himself.
This article goes on to say that a significantly greater amount of returns based on false income get through than the amount prevented and/or detected by the IRS. And that many of these false returns or fraudulent returns are forged by IRS employees.
And damn, “The IRS does not analyze much data from identity theft cases for patterns that could be followed to prevent future refund fraud.”
All I can say is “Nice” and Really?
Not to mention, their (IRS) computer vulnerabilities are deplorable.
More about that gem here: IRS plagued by computer vulnerabilities five consecutive years
Read and download the last two IRS audits for yourself: (click on link and a new page will open then click link a second time to save or open for viewing)
- 2012 Report to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue
- 2011 Report to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue
You’ve got to read this article by: By Aliya Sternstein 04/19/2012 (well you don’t have to, but its very informative)
There’s your tax dollars working for you!
Do you know where you tax return is?
If you’re like hundreds of thousands of others who have already filed their tax returns promptly and have discovered that some crook has already filed one for you, then you’re probably pretty upset and have good reason to be.
If you’re just sending out your tax return today, then you have a very good chance of becoming a victim yourself.
How will you know if you are a victim?
If you file electronically you will most likely receive a message from the electronic filing system that a duplicate social security number has been detected or that a tax return has already been filed using your social security number.
If you file by mail, it may be weeks or even months before you even find out you’re a victim. You will receive a letter that says, “more than one tax return was filed for you” or states “you received wages from an employer you don’t know”. And then it will be more months or even, in some cases, a year or two before you will actually get your tax return.
What should you do if you become a victim? Continue reading