Are you a victim of tax identity theft? Part 1

Find out if you are a victim of tax identity theft and what to do about it.

Imagine filing your annual tax return, only to have it rejected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) because it had already been filed. The good news is you are not suffering from memory loss. The bad news is you may be a victim of tax identity theft. The incidents of fraudulently filed tax returns have steadily increased. Given the repeated occurrences of data breaches, we are all potential victims. According to the IRS, from 2008 through May of 2012, the IRS has identified more than 550,000 taxpayers who have had their identities stolen for the purpose of claiming false refunds in their names.

How do you know if you are a possible victim of identity theft? First of all, if you believe your social security number has been compromised, then you are a potential victim. Another warning sign is if you receive any IRS correspondence stating that:

  • Your social security number has been used to file more than one tax return;
  • You did not file taxes one year but you owe additional taxes, a refund offset, or had collection action taken against you for that year;
  • IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you.

There are numerous steps to take if you become a victim.

  • Contact your local police department, as soon as possible.
  • Go to to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or call the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 1 (877) 438-4338 or TTY 1 (866) 653-4261.
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus immediately. You will need to place a ‘Fraud Alert’ on your credit report:
  • Close all accounts that were opened without your permission or existing accounts that show evidence of misuse.

Michigan State University Extension educators encourage taxpayers to act quickly if they suspect they may be victims of tax identity theft. Part two of this article contains ways to reduce your risk of this happening to you and more actions to take if you become a victim.

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