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How to handle IRS ID theft

The threat of identity theft has never been higher. Due to the increasing prevalence of technology in people's everyday lives, hackers can easily access Social Security numbers and credit card information. In fact, 2017 saw roughly 158 people's Social Security numbers become exposed while over 14 million credit card numbers got out onto the web. Both of these are vast increases to the previous year. 

There are numerous warning signs that indicate you have fallen victim to IRS ID theft. You will receive multiple tax returns filed for you, or there will be an unexplained change in your employment benefits due to the agency receiving a notification of an income change when one does not exist. The IRS may also receive reports that you owe more in taxes because you earned more than you actually did. In any of these cases, it is important to take swift action to avoid falling victim to ID theft. 

File reports with the proper agencies

You should notify the local police of the situation so they can try to look into the matter for you. You also need to file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. There are three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, and you need to place fraud alerts on all your accounts with the bureaus. 

Respond to IRS notifications promptly

In the event that the IRS informs you that you owe more than you should, you need to act quickly. A phone number will likely come with this notification, and you should be sure to use it. The person on the other end will tell you to complete and send in IRS Form 14039, which you can find on IRS.gov. It can take some time for the IRS to resolve these cases. In the meantime, you should continue to file your tax return and pay your taxes. Some cases are particularly complex, especially if they span several years, so you need to be patient and remain in touch with the Taxpayer Advocate Service. 

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