As we move deeper into February, and more and more are filing their tax returns, a number of unlucky filers are finding out that someone has already filed in their name — and walked away with their refunds!
It’s become more and more of problem each year; this year it appears that most of those questionable tax returns were submitted using software from TurboTax, one of the largest providers of tax preparation software, which temporarily stopped sending out state returns last week while it looked into the matter.
The fraud generally isn’t discovered until the “send” button is hit on your electronically filed return, only to get a “rejection” code from the IRS. Or you mail in the return using the postal service, only to be left wondering a few weeks later where your refund check is. A third possible warning sign is when you receive a letter from the IRS advising that your tax return totals don’t match up with those reported to the IRS by your employer or your bank/mortgage company.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, here’s what to do next:
- Report suspected fraud to the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
- Also fill out IRS Form 14039 “Identity Theft Affidavit”
- The IRS will next issue you an identity protection pin. You will need to submit your IP Pin along with your Social Security number when you file your tax return going forward.
- Check your credit report to verify that the thief hasn’t also attempted to take out loans or credit cards using your Social Security Number.
- Change the passwords to all your financial accounts, and make sure they are all different.
- Be patient: The IRS says the typical case of identity theft takes 120 days to resolve.
Of course, this list details what must be done “after the fact”. A more pro-active strategyis to beat tax scammers to the punch and file your return early. In other words, file your return and get your refund before someone else has the chance to do so!