Stolen Tax Refund

Most of us have just completed our 2015 tax returns and many are expecting a refund—be it large or small. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous people waiting to relieve you of your refund. Should you find that you are the victim of tax return fraud, following are steps you should take as soon as you discover that there is a problem:

1. Fill out IRS Form 14039.

Form 14039 is the affidavit that notifies the IRS that you’re a victim of IRS tax return fraud. Send it via certified mail with a return receipt request, so you’ll know that the IRS received it. Remember to keep a copy of the form for yourself.

2. Remember to check on your state return.

Your state return also may have been compromised as well. Therefore, you should contact your state taxing authority and follow its procedures for reporting the theft.

3. Protect your credit.

If you are a victim of identity theft, you’re entitled to a free 90-day fraud alert on your credit report. This alert requires businesses to verify your identity before opening new accounts. After that, you can ask the credit bureaus for a seven-year extension.

A credit freeze is another option which may be better because a credit freeze prevents potential creditors from accessing your credit report to check your credit, thereby preventing accounts from being opened accounts in your name. Just remember that if you freeze your credit, there is a rather extensive set of steps you might have to go through each time you want to use it.

4. Secure your cellphone.

Fraud alerts are linked to your phone number. That’s the reason identity thieves often try to gain access to a victim’s cellphone account to try to redirect fraud-alert calls. To counter this action, ensure that your email address is attached to your account.

5. Paper file your tax return.

Because the thieves have already filed a return in your name, you won’t be able to file electronically, so you must then submit a paper return. You must also include a photo ID and the Form 14039 described above.

6. Be prepared to reconfirm your identity.

The IRS may ask you for additional information to confirm your identity. This may include items such as a copy of your driver’s license; copies of a select number of utility bills; or a copy of the previous year’s tax return. Most criminals would not have such items readily available. Remember, the IRS will not call you either to get or give information; Also, it does not request personal information via email, text or any social media platform.

7. Be patient.

Once you have filed your report, it likely will be months before the matter is fully investigated and resolved. According to its own website, “The IRS typically resolves identity theft cases within about 120 days.” If you have not heard from them by that time, I would recommend that you call and politely ask for a status update.

Your Money Wiz