If you've recently been affected by identity theft, especially if you were a victim of the recent Equifax breach, you may find yourself struggling more to take care of a number of common things this year. Taking care of your taxes this year, for example, may present a unique challenge. By following these tips, however, you'll be able to make the tax-paying experience easier.
1. Report your identity theft as soon as information about it comes to light
This will help prevent some fraudulent activity. Report online by visiting IDTheft.gov or call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338.
2. Fill out form 14039 as soon as possible
This is the form that notifies the IRS that your identity has been stolen. Whether your first clue that something was wrong was a notice of irregularity from the IRS or you had previously suspected an issue, the sooner you report the potential problem, the sooner the IRS can start working with you.
3. Respond quickly to any communications from the IRS
Note that the IRS will not begin communication over the phone; typically, you will receive a certified letter letting you know that there's something going on. While this may take longer to address, it will also ensure that you know that when you receive an IRS notification, it's genuine.
When you do receive these communications, respond quickly. Make sure that you're taking the steps necessary to get that information out there.
4. Be prepared with the right documents
In order to prove that you, and not the thief, are the genuine owner of your identity, you need to have documentation to help prove your identity. This usually comes in one of three forms: your passport, your driver's license, or your social security card.
You may also use copies of any other government-issued ID (a military ID or carry permit, for example) to prove your identity.
5. Be patient
If you've reported a case of identity theft, you'll need to be patient. The IRS has increased their efforts to help victims of identity theft, but you will need to wait longer than usual for the processing of your tax documents. Be patient as you wait for these issues to be resolved.
In the Future
Once you've been the victim of identity theft once, you're willing to do anything in your power to prevent it from happening again. In order to protect your identity in the future, make sure you're following these key steps.
- Closely protect your Social Security Number. There are some occasions when you'll need to share that information, but if it's not necessary, keep it to yourself! Never share your Social Security Number over the phone.
- Avoid carrying documents that could allow thieves access to your identity. Keep them locked at home instead, ideally in a fireproof safe or lockbox that will help protect them so that you'll still be able to access them in the event of an emergency.
- Pay attention to your credit report and other critical information. Check your credit report annually to ensure that you don't see any odd activity. If you do, report it immediately, rather than waiting.
Dealing with identity theft is tough--especially when it comes to handling your personal financial documents. Fortunately, the government is on your side.
It may take some time to restore your personal information to its usual state. In some cases, you may continue to deal with the repercussions of identity theft for years to come. Thankfully, filing your taxes this year should be resolved relatively quickly and smoothly.
Need to learn more with your taxes, especially if you've recently been hit with the knowledge of your identity theft? Contact us today by calling our office at 405-759-2796 or requesting a free consultation online.