I got a phone call from my tax guy this morning telling me that my tax filing was a victim of identity theft. When they went to make the filing, my federal was already filed. It may take 3-6 mos to get my return now w/ amended filings. Evidently the state filing was no problem. How does this happen? Not very clear on this. I called my bank; they said what do you want us to do? Told them I was looking for advice! ugh. Tax guy said contact the 3 credit reporting companies to notify them of this. He felt the banks should do more about this. Can you comment more on this and lead me to more info as to how this happens, etc. It is perplexing; it happened to 2 or 3 other clients in tax guys office, too.
SAVAGE SAYS: This is the most frightening, and complex, kind of problem. You’re going to need to deal with this very methodically, and accept the fact that it will take a long time to set things straight. First, I assume that your tax preparer has contacted the government — and will deal with those issues. I’m always surprised that the government hasn’t figure out a way to find who DID use your SS number to file. I would press their ombudsman office to find out whether a refund was mailed to someone — and where it was sent!
Second, they are right. You must contact each of the three major credit bureaus. The easiest way to get to them is through the link on www.annualcreditreport.com. Have your account frozen so the same person cannot open new credit accounts or bank accounts in your name. And check over your latest report from each bureau so you know they haven’t already done so.
Now, if your identity was only used for tax filing, things will be a lot easier — although I am not aware that the government has any way of blocking your account from being used this way in the future.
But if your entire credit report is compromised, you face a daunting restoration task. There is help available, at a price. And I don’t know enough about these services (most require that you sign up for insurance before the event) to recommend them.
The best place to get comprehensive help and advice is http://www.idtheftcenter.org/ This is a non-profit, and their site will probably answer every one of your questions.
P.S. The IRS has just responded to my inquiry about how long it takes to deal with identity theft in tax return cases. The spokesperson for the IRS confirmed that you must file a paper affidavit — and that it can take up to 6 months to get this issue sorted out, and your refund back to you! They say it takes that long to “verify” who is the “correct” person to link to that Social Security number. (I will post a link below to the two IRS sources for information on dealing with identity theft and income taxes. I find it astounding — and told the spokesperson — that if a credit bureau can verify your information online and securely instantaneously to give you access to your credit report, that the IRS must take a paper form and 6 months to do essentially the same thing! Plus, the IRS has the ability to track refunds that are direct-deposited into accounts fraudulently opened using your Social Security number.
But that is the case, so make sure you filed the affidavit properly. Here are those links:
Will you please write back and let me know when this is finally settled and you get your refund.