You May Be A Victim of Identity Theft

Michael Wiener, E.A.

Michael Wiener, E.A.

Recently the Federal Trade Commission reported that government documents/benefits is the most common form of reported identity theft. As a tax practitioner, identity theft continues to be an ever increasing problem for my clients.

First of all the question is asked: What is identity theft? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. These crimes are serious! If you become a victim of identity theft you can spend months or possibly years (and your hard earned money) repairing the mess these thieves have made of your good name, your credit record, your tax  information, and your refund.

Usually an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file (E-File) a tax return and claim a refund early in the filing season. You may be unaware
that this has happened until you file your tax return later in the filing season and you will get a notice that two returns have been filed using the same SSN. Thus innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.

If you or your tax professional receives notice from the IRS that your tax records may have been compromised, respond immediately to the name and/or number printed on the notice or letter. You will have to fill out IRS Identity Theft Affidavit Form 14039. In addition the IRS will issue a sixdigit identity protection (IP) PIN number that must be used when filing your tax return. IP PIN’s are valid for only one year. A new number is issued every year for three years after the identity theft incident.
Here are some tips to help you protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:
• Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents
with your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification
Number (ITIN) on it.
• Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they
ask. Give it only when required and you know who is asking
for information
• Protect your financial information
• Check your credit report every 12 months
• Secure personal information in your home
• Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, antispam/
virus software, update security patches and change
passwords for internet accounts.
• Remember the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers
by email to request financial information. This includes any
type of electronic communication such as text messages or
social media.
• If your tax records are not currently affected by identity
theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or
stolen purse, or wallet, questionable credit card activity or
credit report, you may consider contacting the IRS Identity
Protection Specialized Unit.

In my practice I have seen where identity theft cases are extremely complex to resolve, frequently touching on multiple issues and multiple tax years. It seems that we must remain vigilant to guard our personal information.

If you should have a topic that you would like me to
discuss or if you should have a question, please feel
free to call 239.403.4410 or e-mail me at
An enrolled agent, licensed by the US Department
of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS
for audits, collections and appeals. To attain the enrolled
agent designation, candidates must demonstrate
expertise in taxation, fulfill continuing education
credits and adhere to a stringent code of ethics.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.