Here’s how to spot possible tax identity theft and prevent tax fraud in your name.
Watch for These 6 Signs of Tax-Related Identity Theft
What if someone filed a phony tax return in your name and collected your tax refund? Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Tax identity theft happens frequently enough that there was an entire week – Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week – in February 2020 dedicated to the problem.
Tax identity thieves and scammers posing as IRS staffers love tax season, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  But you don’t have to become their next victim.
Click or swipe for 6 signs that someone is trying to cash in on your tax identity.
1. E-filing roadblocks
If the IRS rejects your e-filed return due to a duplicate filing under your Social Security number, you need to act immediately. Complete and send an Identity Theft Affidavit to the IRS, which uses the form to document identity theft. 
Once you report Social Security number identity theft to the IRS, you should file a paper return if you’re still unable to e-file. The IRS will send a letter acknowledging receipt of your identity theft affidavit. Then the IRS’s Identity Theft Victim Assistance organization will assess the issues and investigate whether your case affects other tax years. Also, inform your state income tax agency that your Social Security number may have been compromised. 
2. Baffling IRS letters
If the IRS sends you a notice about a suspicious tax return that you didn’t file, that’s a red flag that something could be amiss with your identity and personal information.  When you receive such a notice, follow the instructions to verify your identity with the IRS within 30 days. If you believe someone filed a fraudulent return, you can also request a copy from the IRS. 
When you call the Taxpayer Protection Program toll-free number provided in the notice, have the letter on hand and a copy of the previous year’s tax return, which you’ll need to verify your identity. Once the IRS verifies your identity, tell the agency whether you filed the return in question. If you didn’t file the return, the IRS will remove the fraudulent return from your IRS records.
3. Unwarranted collection notices
When the IRS sends a notice informing you that you owe additional tax or the agency is holding or offsetting your refund for a year you didn’t file a tax return, pay attention. 
Call the contact number provided on the letter right away to inform the IRS that you believe someone filed a fraudulent tax return using your private, personal information. Make sure you have a copy of your most recent tax return handy to help verify your identity.
4. IRS notice of accounts created or changed
If you receive notice from the IRS that a new account was created under your name, someone may have used your stolen Social Security number and/or other personal information for tax-related identity theft. Another red flag: The IRS sends a notice that your existing account was accessed or disabled when you didn’t log in or take any action. Contact the IRS Tax Fraud Hotline at 1-800-829-0433 to support suspicious activity.
5. IRS records indicate unfamiliar income
If the IRS sends a notice that you need to amend your tax return because IRS records show you received wages or other income not listed on your return, the missing information may be simply an oversight on your part.  Or, it could signal possible tax-related identity theft.
If you earned the income or wages in question, you need to amend your return. If you didn’t earn the income, don’t contact the IRS. Instead, you should contact the company or entity that reported the income and ask them to correct the error.
6. IRS imposters
Beware of scammers who call, falsely posing as IRS personnel. “They claim you owe taxes and demand that you pay right now, usually with a gift card or prepaid debit card,” warns the FTC. “They threaten you’ll be arrested or face other bad consequences if you don’t pay. But it’s all a lie. If you send the money, it’s gone.”
This article by Deb Hipp was originally published on Debt.com.
Published by Debt.com, LLC