Suspecting and then confirming that you have had your identity stolen is a nightmarish scenario. It combines your worst fear if you have ever lost your wallet or purse with all of the work of replacing those things that were lost. It can be so overwhelming you might be wondering, “where do I even start!?”
There are an increasing number of identify thefts that are first identified when a thief attempts to file a tax return on your behalf and claim a refund from the IRS or Ohio. The documents that follow are intended to help you navigate through some of these issues when confronted with identify theft and fraudulent tax returns.
• The IRS has provided a short list of items for you to complete which is substantially similar to the items that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has covered in its longer, checklist style guidance.
· The primary item to complete for the IRS is Form 14039 which initiates the IRS fraud protection procedures.
· Also included is a form letter, one of several, that the IRS may send to a taxpayer if they suspect tax return fraud might be occurring on the account.
· The IRS website has a number of articles related to identify theft and how to protect yourself.
• The process with Ohio is very similar to the IRS.
· Ohio also has a form letter that is sent out.
· Ohio recently added an identity quiz for roughly 50% of taxpayers requesting a refund. This letter simply asks you to complete an identity quiz and is not indicative that your identity has been stolen (unless you haven’t filed your tax return for the year yet).
· Ohio includes an affidavit (form IT TA) that must be filled out to initiate their protection procedures, similar to Federal.
• The FTC is the primary federal government agency dealing with identity theft.
· The FTC has put together a very detailed, checklist style document to help you with this process. It includes information on most forms of identity theft, of which tax identity theft is just one. This may be more information than you need, but if the fraud has gone beyond your tax returns and includes false credit activity (or you are concerned that this may happen), this guide will be very useful for you. It includes a wealth of information, including sample letters and a variety of websites and contact information to relevant organizations that can help you. It also guides you through the process of making a police report due to the theft of your personal information.
· Note that the IRS and the FTC generally do not share data with each other. Therefore if you have completed the IRS identify theft notification procedures, do not assume that the FTC, credit bureaus, etc. are also aware of your situation.