Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of people in the world who try to use identity fraud to get what belongs to someone else. One of the ways that identity thieves can try to get their hands on what belongs to you is by filing a tax return using your Social Security number. If you are eligible for certain credits that result in a refund, a fraudster can file a return – and possibly get your money. Additionally, the situation might result in a failure to file fee, thanks to difficulties getting the information submitted.
When you go to file your own tax return, you might be notified that a return with your Social Security number has already been filed. This can be a disconcerting and difficult situation. The silver lining, though, is that the IRS is well aware of the problem, and has an entire division that deals with these types of fraud situations.
File a Form 14039
If you discover that a return has already been filed with your Social Security number, you need to fill out a Form 14039. This form is meant to alert the IRS to the possibility of fraud. However, the IRS won’t just take your word for it. You will need to prove who you are. In order to verify your identity, you’ll need to share documentation. You might be asked for copies of:
- Your driver’s license
- State-issued ID card
- Other documentation proving your identity
You will have to send the documentation in on your own dime, however. You can send copies (not originals) via fax to 1-978-247-9965, or mail them to Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 9039, Andover, MA 01810-0939.
If you can prove the situation, and this is something that happens regularly so you should be able to, you will be back on track with your tax filing, and you will likely receive your refund.
Other Steps to Take
Once you have things moving at the IRS, it’s time to take other steps. The fact that your Social Security number is out there indicates the possibility that someone is using your number to open lines of credit. If your identity is stolen for these purposes, you could see a reduction in your credit score, you could even find that someone else is using your good name to make purchases on credit – that they aren’t paying for.
You need to call each of the three credit bureaus and check your report for signs of identity fraud. You can place a credit freeze on your reports so that fraudsters can’t open new accounts in your name. You should also consider reporting identity theft to the local law enforcement authorities so that you have a record of your efforts to track down the fraudster.
The unfortunate truth is that it’s very hard to catch someone who perpetrates identity fraud. It can happen, but it’s doesn’t happen very often. If you have been the victim, you best bet is to clear things up as quickly as possible so that you are protected, and so that you get the money you are owed.