This is the time of year when many consumers find out that they’re a victim of identity theft. And they find out that they’re a victim from the IRS.
Unfortunately, many ID crooks use a stolen identity to file for IRS tax refunds. But fortunately, the IRS does have “checks” that can stop these identity theft attempts.
Here’s how the IRS could alert you that someone is trying to steal your identity:
- You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
- You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
- You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
- You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
- You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
- You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
- You’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number but you did not request an EIN.
If you receive any of these letters or notices respond to them immediately. Also, alert the major credit reporting agencies as they provide free services to stop unauthorized applications for credit in your name.
In addition to notices from the IRS that might indicate identity theft, look for letters from your state unemployment insurance department about benefits you didn’t apply for or applications in your name that you didn’t make. The various special unemployment insurance benefits paid during the pandemic opened the door to many crooks stealing benefits.
In fact, I was a victim of identity theft during the pandemic when an ID crook tried to steal my unemployment benefits for self-employed persons. Luckily I caught it right away, and I double-checked my income statement from the state unemployment insurance department to be sure it was correct.
If you received a 1099G for pandemic unemployment insurance benefits give it a double check to be sure your form doesn’t represent money paid to an identity crook.
Disclaimer: Alan Mendelson is a well-known TV consumer news reporter who reports on tax issues. You should seek professional advice if you have tax questions or issues.