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Could you be the victim of tax-related identity theft?

Why would anyone want to file an income tax return? The rules are complex; it takes some knowledge to make sure you get all of the deductions and credits possible, and you could end up paying. What if you could guarantee you would receive a refund? Would you want to file your taxes then?

Obtaining a refund check is why someone else may want to file your taxes. With a Social Security number and some other personal information, an identity thief could do just that. The problem is that you may not know about it until after the damage.

Is there a way to tell if someone stole your information?

Unfortunately, you may be one of many people across the country, including here in Missouri, who don't know someone stole their personal information until it's too late. Some of the ways you may discover you are the victim of tax-related identity theft are:

  • One of the primary ways that you may find out someone stole your information is when you attempt to file your income tax return and the IRS rejects it because someone had already filed another return with your Social Security number.
  • The next popular way to find out is when the IRS sends you a letter, requesting information about a return it suspects you didn't file.
  • You receive a letter from the IRS, saying you owe additional taxes.
  • You receive a letter, indicating income from an employer for whom you never worked.
  • The IRS notifies you of a refund offset.
  • The IRS sends you a letter, indicating that your account is in collections for non-payment of taxes for a particular tax year for which you know you either didn't file a return or had paid what you owed.
  • You may receive a notice from the IRS, indicating the creation of an online account in your name.
  • You could get a notice, indicating that the IRS disabled your existing online account for inaction.
  • You may receive a letter from the IRS, indicating that someone accessed your existing online account.
  • You receive a tax transcript in the mail, but you didn't order one.

The common theme among the above is that they all happen after someone else uses your information. Even though the IRS is the one alerting you that something is wrong, you are still responsible for proving to the agency that you did not file the return in question. The IRS has a process for people to go through, whose identities were stolen, but you don't have to go through it alone, and you probably shouldn't.

While you are working to protect your personal information, you also need to protect your rights. To do that, you will more than likely benefit from working with an experienced tax attorney.

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