What To Do If A Fraudulent Tax Return is Filed Using Your Information
Identity theft is a fact of modern life.
That may sound bold, but the numbers support that unfortunate reality.
According to the Wall Street Journal in February, 803 million individual records have been stolen in the last three years through major information breaches – like when the Target or Anthem databases were compromised. The U.S. population is about 319 million. Although not everyone’s information has been stolen, if you break down the numbers, every individual in the U.S. could have had their information stolen 2.5 times in the last three years.
As a tax preparation company, H&R Block is most concerned about the impact these thefts have on your tax situation. This is called tax identity theft, and here is how it often happens:
A thief steals your name, birth date and social security number.
The thief files a tax return using that information. They simply make up the details about an employer, income, dependents and more. The information is completely false and engineered to get a refund.
It’s that simple. All a thief needs is you name, birth date and social security number.
Often, you don’t learn about this fraud until you go to file your accurate return and the IRS rejects it because they already have one on file with your social security number. Alternatively, you may file your return and later get a letter from the IRS showing one of the following:
- That more than one return was filed
- You received wages from an employer unknown to you
- You have a balance due, offset or collections action
The Treasury Department estimates that it takes 278 days to resolve a case of tax identity theft. Most unfortunately, the burden is on you – the victim – to prove your identity is true. And while everything is being sorted out, you don’t get your refund.
If you are facing tax identity theft on your own, here are the steps you need to take.
- Share the IRS letter or notice with your tax professional. They can help you respond to it.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, the Identity Theft Affidavit.
- File a local police report.
- File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Set up fraud alerts with the credit bureaus (or at least with one):
- Set up a system for monitoring your credit reports closely for at least the next year.
- Notify your financial institutions.
- Submit your tax return by paper if the electronic copy was rejected.
It’s a lot of work. Because of this growing concern, H&R Block has a few safeguards and products to help better protect your tax identity—including Tax Identity Shield®.
If you prepared your taxes with H&R Block this year and choose to purchase Tax Identity Shield, we can help. If someone files a fraudulent return using your information, all you have to do is call the Tax Identity Shield® hotline. Log into your MyBlock account to get this dedicated phone number (it’s different from our usual client support number).
Even if you didn’t choose Tax Identity Shield during tax prep, H&R Block clients can go into MyBlock and sign up for this product now to help better protect next year’s tax return.
Take steps now to help better protect yourself and talk to your tax pro at H&R Block to learn more about how we can limit your likelihood of tax identity theft.