Keep your identity safe while filing taxes

- In 2014, tax identity theft made up 33 percent of all identity theft complaints, according to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. The Better Business Bureau has the tips you need to make sure you keep your identity safe when dealing with your taxes. Tax ID Theft is an ever-growing problem whose victims can face loss of not just their refund, but also other personal information that could cause life changing problems to arise.

How you may know if you're a victim of tax-related ID theft
You could find out when trying to file tax returns or by receiving notices from the IRS about a tax account.
The most common indicators that you're a victim of tax-related ID theft are:
•     You try to file electronically, but the IRS rejects your return because another return using your SSN is already filed
•     You receive an IRS notice showing you received wages from somewhere you never worked
•     You receive an IRS letter indicating one or more tax returns have been filed using your SSN
•     You receive a balance due notice, refund offset notice, or have collection actions taken against you for a tax year when you didn't file a return or receive a refund.

What you should do if you've been a victim
The steps you'll have to take should be based on what's happening with your tax account.
If you tried to file electronically, but the IRS said you've already filed with your SSN
•     Fill out an IRS Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit)
•     Print a paper copy of your tax return
•     Make a clear and legible photocopy of at least one document to verify your identity: passport, driver's license, social security card or other valid U.S. federal or state government issued identification
•     Submit your tax return, Form 14039, and legible photocopy to the IRS at the appropriate address for your state.

If the IRS sent a letter saying you didn't report all your income on your tax return and you don't recognize names of companies where income was earned
•     Respond to the letter as soon as possible, following the instructions in the notice
•     Fill out an IRS Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit)
•     Make a clear and legible photocopy of at least one document to verify your identity: passport, driver's license, social security card or other valid U.S. federal or state government issued identification
•     Submit your response and documents to the address indicated on the letter

Your information has been stolen, and you want to protect your tax account
•     Fill out and submit an IRS Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit)
•     Also, you can contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit
o      Toll-free phone number: 1 (800) 908-4490

Hours: Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time (Alaska and Hawaii use Pacific Time)
Other steps to take to protect yourself if your identity has been stolen
•     Contact the Social Security Administration to verify and correct any wage discrepancies on your SSA account
•     File a report with your local police department
•     Place a fraud alert on your credit reports
•     File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
•     Contact your state Attorney General's office

If your refund is delayed due to ID Theft and it's causing a financial hardship
•     Facing imminent eviction, utility cutoff, inability to pay for medical needs, etc. you should contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service
More valuable tax information can be found in BBB’s Tax Resource Center which hosts information on tax-related scams, such as the ever-present IRS phone scam that came in as the top scam of 2015 according to BBB’s Scam Tracker tool.

The Tax Resource Center enables consumers to quickly find a tax preparer or tax resolution service. BBB has also provided all the important links a consumer and business owners will need to understand what tax credits and deductions they should be sure to include on their taxes.

Lastly, we’ve made sure the Tax Resource Center can lead consumers directly to the source with an IRS Tax Resource.

Additional Resources: The BBB is a public service agency with a mission to protect consumers by fostering high standards of responsibility in business practices and services. BBB Serving Southfield, Eastern Michigan & the U.P. regularly informs consumers of scams via social media and the website.

For warnings, scam alerts and consumer tips visit: http://www.bbb.org/detroit/news-events/.


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