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There’s never a convenient time to deal with identity theft, but tax season is certainly one of the worst times it can happen. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most common times of year for scammers to successfully steal personal information.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when a consumer’s identity is misused to file a tax return (meaning that the fraudster steals the tax-payer’s refund), or when a scammer poses as a government representative or accountant to steal a victim’s personal information to commit fraud. With so much data being exchanged between companies, accountants, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and consumers, it’s even easier for fraudsters to intercept personal information like social security numbers, tax ID numbers, and driver’s license numbers, and to then use that information to open credit card accounts or loans in the victim’s name.
If you suspect you may already be the victim of tax-related identity theft, there are immediate steps you can take to minimize the damage. But first, how do you even know if someone has attempted to use your identity?
What Are the Warning Signs?
Fortunately, there are clear warning signs that your personal information may have fallen into the wrong hands. First and foremost, if you have identity monitoring in place, pay close attention to dark web alerts that indicate your personal information may have been compromised. Other red flags include:
- Confirmation from the IRS that you received payment from an employer you never worked for
- Communication from the Department of Labor regarding unemployment or other benefit payments for which you never filed a claim
- Notices from the IRS referencing adjustments to a tax return you did not file
- Inability to e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number (meaning that someone else has already filed a return using your SSN)
Generally speaking, any activity regarding your tax return that you did not personally initiate should raise concerns.
What Can You Do About It?
If the worst should happen and you know someone has attempted tax fraud using your identity, here are your next steps:
- Immediately report the fraud to–
- Submit the following requests to-
- Request a copy of the fraudulent tax return for more insight into what info was used
- Initiate a Credit Freeze and/or Fraud Alerts through the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion (this will prevent the fraudster from using your personal information to open any new accounts)
- Ask for a copy of your credit report to note any suspicious activity or accounts you don’t recognize and correct any errors
- Stay vigilant–
- Keep an eye on other accounts (like your bank account, credit card statements, etc.) to look for unauthorized access or changes that indicate fraud beyond the tax filing. Pro tip: AAA Identity Champion does this for you with identity monitoring provided at no additional cost to AAA members!
While no one wants to deal with the fallout from identity theft and fraud, acting quickly can minimize damage. The AAA Identity Champion Basic plan is included with AAA membership, offering members an identity monitoring early warning system at no additional cost. Upgraded plans are also available with added features to save you time (resolution services) and money (stolen funds insurance1 and legal fee reimbursement). Browse our complete list of plans to view all of the sanity-saving benefits AAA Identity Champion offers.