What You Should Do If Your Identity was Stolen

The threat of your identity being stolen is real. There are fraudsters that have developed ways to steal identities in order to file fraudulent tax returns and get refund money. This tax crime is becoming more and more widespread because it can be conducted remotely and anonymously.

Scammers depend on numbers and luck. They file a number of fraudulent tax returns, hoping that the IRS will approve at least some of them. The IRS, on the other hand, has increased its security protocols to prevent fraudulent tax returns from being processed.

To protect their identities, taxpayers should keep their Social Security Number, filing status, and personal information secure at all times. However, if they fall victim to a tax fraudster, they must immediately:

- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.identitytheft.gov or use their hotline number 1-877-438-4338 or TTY 1-866-653-4261.

- Place a fraud alert on your credit records by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus:

Equifax - www.Equifax.com - 1-800-525-6285
Experian - www.Experian.com - 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion - www.TransUnion.com - 1-800-680-7289

- Inform your financial institution about the identity theft to prevent outside access to your funds and prohibit unauthorized transactions.

- If you are a victim of a phishing scam, you can contact the IRS at phishing@irs.gov or call their toll-free number 1-800-366-4484. If you contacted the IRS and did not get a resolution, you may contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

It is vital that you contact the appropriate agencies as soon as you discover the theft, especially your bank, credit cards, the IRS and the FTC. The IRS provides a unique PIN to victims of identity theft to help them protect their information in future transactions.

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