Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
From 2011 through 2014, identity thieves submitted more than 19 million suspicious tax returns to the IRS for more than $63 billion in fraudulent refunds. But until recently, taxpayers weren’t allowed to see the fraudulent returns filed using their Social Security numbers (SSNs).
That changed recently, thanks in part to a letter sent to the IRS by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen asking that identity theft victims be able to see tax documents related to the thefts.
“Victims of identity theft face significant emotional and financial hardships, and they shouldn’t be left in the dark about the extent of the theft,” Ayotte said in a public statement issued on her website after the IRS changed its policy. “This is a positive step that will help them protect themselves and their families.”
An identity thief may use someone’s SSN to file a tax return. If this happens, when the person actually goes to file, his or her refund will have already been distributed to the thief. This can cause additional serious issues for the victim, including difficulty in finding out where his or her private information was leaked.
With the IRS policy change, consumers will have a chance to get answers, says Aaron Blau, EA, CPA, of the Arizona Society of Enrolled Agents.
“It [offers] people ways to find out why or how their identity was stolen because with these documents, they can start to put the puzzle together,” Blau says. “It definitely helps the consumer to know where [ the theft] occurred.”
That information could, in turn, allow the consumer to track the loss of information and collect benefits. In the case of information being lost via a data breach, many affected companies will offer free identity theft protection products for consumers whose data may have been exposed.
The IRS policy change could help in another way, too: Although the forms will be heavily edited to protect sensitive information contained (even in fraudulent forms), partial bank routing numbers may still be visible.
“Most of the time, the thieves are taking advantage of the direct deposit capabilities; it’s the fastest way to get a refund transmitted,” Blau says. “With the documents in hand, the taxpayer or legal authority can say, ‘Here’s the name on the account, here’s the partial account number,’ and that may be enough to place a hold or a freeze on the bank account.”
In addition to helping spur the IRS policy change, Ayotte also is a cosponsor on the Social Security Identity Defense Act of 2015, introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) in May 2015. This would require the IRS to notify potential identity theft victims as well as law enforcement officials. The law would also add civil penalties and extend jail time for identity thieves.
“The big thing is just knowing what resources are available to you in the case of something happening,” Blau says.
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft and would like to request a copy of a fraudulent return filed using your SSN, go to www.irs.gov and follow the instructions.
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.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.