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.
In the rush to file your 2013 taxes before April 15, looking out for federal income tax identity theft may not be at the top of your mind—but it should be. Federal income tax fraud through the use of identity theft topped the IRS’s list of the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2014.
An identity thief may use your Social Security number to snag your tax refund or to cause other problems with your tax return.
How do I know I’ve been a victim of federal income tax identity theft?
You may find out that you’ve been a victim of federal income tax identity theft when you try to e-file your income tax return and it gets rejected. You will get an error message that says a tax return has already been filed under your Social Security number.
You could also find out you’re a victim by receiving an unexpected letter from the IRS. If someone uses your Social Security number to file a federal income tax return before you do, the IRS may send you a letter notifying you of the duplicate return. In addition, if someone has used your Social Security number to get a job, the IRS may send you a letter about unreported wages.
Keep in mind that the IRS will never contact you via email, text, or social media asking for personal or financial information.
What should I do if I’m a victim?
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. And this year, file on paper.
Once this is taken care of, pull copies of your credit reports and scan them for information you don’t recognize. Request a fraud alert from one of the three national credit reporting agencies (when an alert is requested with one agency it is also sent to the other two), and apply a security freeze to your credit files. A security freeze is designed to prevent the information in your credit file from being shared with others and to prevent credit grantors from granting credit in your name.
(Read more: Eight Steps to Prevent Tax Identity Theft)
Submit an Identity Theft Affidavit to the FTC, and bring a copy of it to your local police department to file a police report. The report and affidavit will make up your Identity Theft Report, which will help you prove to the credit reporting agencies and your creditors that you were a victim of identity theft.
Most police departments now take identity theft seriously. If they are hesitant to issue a report, be polite but insist that you need to get the incident on record and that you also need a record number to give to the IRS.
Tips to help you catch identity theft early
Check your credit report regularly for errors or accounts you don’t recognize. You’re entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com. To monitor your credit file more frequently, consider signing up for a credit monitoring product, which can alert you to key changes to your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit files.
If you have recently given out your Social Security number or driver’s license information to potential employers, doctors’ offices, or other companies, make a note and check your credit report 30 days later to see if any incorrect information appears.
Finally, if you have recently had a baby and registered his or her Social Security number with the hospital, check the baby’s credit report every year. Yes, I know—babies don’t have credit. That’s precisely why they are tempting targets for identity thieves. Thieves know no one will be using that number for a decade or more, so they use it instead. Keeping an eye on your family’s credit reports can help you detect identity theft early.
Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of TaxMama.com ®, where your tax questions are answered. She is the author of several books and ebooks, including Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com and tax courses you might enjoy at http://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama.
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.