The tax filing deadline has passed and many taxpayers are now eagerly awaiting their refunds. But what if an identity thief filed taxes in your name and already has your refund?
Identity thieves use stolen Social Security Numbers (SSN) to file fraudulent tax returns and claim other people's refunds. Most legitimate tax filers usually don't know even realize that their SSN is being misused until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notifies them about the problem.
The North Carolina Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division reports hearing from numerous North Carolinians who became victims of this form of identity theft. In most cases, the legitimate taxpayers are able to work with the IRS to straighten out their tax returns and get the refund they are entitled to receive.
If you suspect that someone has filed a fraudulent tax return in your name and stolen your tax refund, here's what you should do:
- Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit immediately at 1-800-908-4490.
- Check your credit reports for any unauthorized activity. You can get one free credit report per year from each of the three national credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Request a fraud alert from any of the three national credit bureaus.
- Consider a security freeze to stop access to new credit in your name. NC residents can get security freezes for free online.
- Consider filing an ID theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), especially if there's been suspicious activity on your credit report.