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Identity Thieves Use Children’s Information to Commit Tax Fraud

Written by Eve Becker on April 16, 2012 in Credit  |   16 comments

It’s been a rough year for L. Katz. In April 2011, thieves broke into her apartment. They not only stole her jewelry but also the birth certificates, passports, and Social Security cards belonging to Katz and her two daughters, now ages 6 and 11. Katz…

It’s been a rough year for L. Katz. In April 2011, thieves broke into her apartment. They not only stole her jewelry but also the birth certificates, passports, and Social Security cards belonging to Katz and her two daughters, now ages 6 and 11.

Katz immediately filed a police report and a 90-day fraud alert with the credit agencies. However, she didn’t know until nearly a year later that she and her family had become victims of identity theft, child identity theft, and identity tax fraud.

First, this past February, Katz was notified that she was being sent to collections for a credit card that someone else had opened in her name. Then, in the beginning of March, Katz filed her taxes electronically and got back an unexpected note.

“When I filed my taxes, I was rejected,” she says. “It said someone had used my daughter’s Social Security number.” As of March, just one daughter’s number had been used to file false taxes. She is waiting anxiously to see if her other daughter’s identity has been compromised as well.

Katz feels frustrated by the sheer number of agencies she had to contact and the number of forms she had to fill out to try to clear her identity. She’s also concerned about her children’s future.

“It affected everything. I was so completely overwhelmed by it,” she says. “With the kids, it’s more complicated. My concern is, what’s going to happen when they are 18? Are they going to have messed up credit?”

Understanding child identity theft

Identity theft–when someone uses another person’s name, Social Security number, or other personal information to commit fraud or other crimes–is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. Of all identity theft complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2011, about 8 percent were cases of child identity theft.

Children are prime targets because, unfortunately, they’re easy to take advantage of. If a thief steals a child’s identity and Social Security number, the thief can set up credit in his own name. A parent might not even realize that a child’s identity has been compromised because there would be no reason to check the child’s credit activity. When the child turns 18 and is ready to apply for a credit card or take out a car loan, he or she might find a legal morass waiting.

A growing subset of identity theft is government identity theft or tax fraud. Thieves will try to use a stolen Social Security number to claim a child who is not theirs on their tax return. They will then file for the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax credits to garner a higher tax refund.

“Especially during tax season, we see more cases involving minors,” says Gabby Beltran, a public information officer for the Identity Theft Resource Center. “Parents submit tax returns and they come back rejected because someone else already filed a return using that Social Security number or someone else already claimed their child as a dependent.”

If you think your child might have tax issues related to identity theft because his or her Social Security number or other personal information was stolen, let the IRS know as soon as possible. Contact the agency’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490 and visit irs.gov/identitytheft. In addition, if the IRS sends you a notice alerting you to possible tax fraud, respond immediately to the name and number printed on the notice to set up an identity theft report.

“Identity theft on the whole is something the IRS takes very seriously,” says an IRS spokesperson. “It’s a very high priority here, and we’ve been doing a lot to address the situation. It is important to know that if [identity theft victims] are due a refund, the IRS will get them their refund. It just may take some time.”

The IRS says it has added new identity theft screening and compliance filters that will help agents spot false returns before they are processed. The agency is also working to speed up case resolution and to secure accounts by placing an identity theft indicator on violated accounts for at least three years. And the IRS also has a test initiative underway to give victims a personal identification number to use when filing their taxes.

For more information about Child ID theft and how to protect your family, visit Equifax’s Family Plan.

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


  1. marvin says:

    cna i have a code put on my kids ss number so that only i have .

  2. Kim says:

    Hello anyone who would respond back last year 2013 I got a letter from IRS rejecting my taxes cause someone else claimed my kids. I mean I am the only one who could claim my kids and the nerves of other people doing this!!! So I was wondering when I file a police report what happens???

  3. carmen v. says:

    what is the irs phone number

  4. Laura says:

    How can I get my taxes fixed if it was rejected by the IRS because someone else claimed with out knowing

    • EFX Moderator says:

      Laura, I’m sorry to hear this happened. Start by filling out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039, immediately. Then, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit (1-800-908-4490).You should also ask the IRS to provide you with an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN). Use that on your federal income tax return (near the signature line on page 2 of the Form 1040) to alert the IRS that it is really you filing the income tax return. Take a look at this blog post for more details: http://blog.equifax.com/tax/what-to-do-when-youre-a-victim-of-tax-identity-theft/

  5. chenita says:

    Karla B. had stole my daughter info for money and now she has all my daughter information and she is also making threats to me and having letters send to me to protect her from me giving info to her boss about the fraud that has been done in her company.. now my child and I are having a lot of problems and we need help…

    • EFX Moderator says:

      Chenita, I’m sorry that is happening to you. If you have lost personal information or had it stolen from you and you think you are at risk of identity theft, contact the IRS immediately so it can secure your tax account. Call the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit toll-free at 1-800-908-4490 or visit irs.gov/identitytheft. You will also need to fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039; follow the instructions provided on the form. Hope this helps.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sergio someone claimed my kids for there tax returns,and they are not the parents.what can i do in this situation.

  7. Crystal I says:

    My tax return was rejected when I tried to e-file. The reason was because someone had already used the SS number of one of my dependents. I did mail in my return and did receive my refund, but when I called the IRS they wouldn’t tell me which SS number was used. I was told it would take 8-9 months for them to send me a letter. In that time one of my kid’s credit could be ruined. How can I find out which SS number was used and what can I do to protect my minor children.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My kids father recently had his aunt how has the same last name as my children claim them on her tax return. I told him no but he went behind my back and did it anyway. What can I do? They received the money for the tax return this past Tuesday…. Is there anything I can do about it now?

  9. Latisha J. says:

    how can I protect my children social security so no one expect me the mom can file taxes for them

  10. Anonymous says:

    My mother told me my son and I can live in her home free when she moved out. Yesterday I was asking my grandma (her mom) about how I go about filing my taxes and she told me that my mother claimed my child. She was never planning on even telling me she already got her returns and when I told her I found out she said I can’t legally do anything and refuses to give my or my child a single cent. I have sole physical custody of my child and I am his number one provider 2. What actions do I take to Freeport what she did so I can claim my son like every parent should be able to with their child

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