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Even if you expect to write a check to the Internal Revenue Service this year—rather than receive a refund—you should still file your taxes as soon as possible. Why? You’re still at risk of becoming a victim of income tax fraud.
Fraudsters don’t care about your actual tax or income figures. All the crooks need is your personal identification information—your name and Social Security number. Everything else— address, job information—they’ll make up, so that they’ll get a return, of course.
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft or a data breach, the Identity Theft Resource Center says that becoming a victim of tax identity theft is a very real possibility. In other words, your personal information is “out there,” and a tax thief may have it and put it to use. The crooks get to work as soon as the filing season opens. (This year, that was Jan. 19, 2016, for electronic tax returns.)
The General Accounting Office says the IRS paid out $5.8 billion for the 2013 tax year. So many tax returns being processed means that if you’re the victim of tax identity theft, it could take months to resolve your claim. As painful as it is to gather your documents and file your taxes, it’s no doubt much easier and less stressful than discovering you’re a victim of identity tax fraud.
Here are three different ways you can report a tax fraud issue:
- If you suspect someone stole your identity and used your Social Security number, then complete Form 14039 and mail a printed copy to the IRS.
- If you suspect fraudulent activity or abusive tax scheme by a tax return preparer, then complete Form 14157 and mail a printed copy to the IRS.
- If you suspect or know of an individual or business that isn’t complying with tax laws, then use Form 3449-A and mail to the IRS, Fresno, CA 93888.
Take advantage of LifeLock’s protection plans. As a proud supporter of National PTA, LifeLock is offering all PTA members and their families a very special offer. Learn more about the offer.
You can also visit the Identity Theft Resource Center and Internal Revenue Service websites for additional resources.
Cory Warren is the blog editor of LifeLock UnLocked.