Alert: Why You Need to File Your Taxes Early
It may not be what you want to hear, but you really really need to consider filing your income taxes early. The IRS and ID theft experts say that tax-refund ID theft is on the rise. Filing your taxes as early as possible is one of the most effective ways to avoid it.
Tax-refund identity theft is when someone files a fraudulent tax return in your name using your personal information, such as your Social Security number. If identity thieves file a fraudulent return before you file your tax return, then they will get your refund. It comes down to whoever files first. You filing early won’t necessarily prevent someone from submitting a return in your name, but at least you will get to cash in on your refund–if you’re eligible for one.
If you become a victim of tax-return ID theft, you may not even realize it until you try to file your tax return and discover that one has already been filed with your Social Security number. Or, the IRS may send you a letter warning you of a suspicious return.
What to do if you are a victim?
- Check out the IRS step-by-step guide, which includes reporting the crime to various local and federal agencies and filing a paper copy of your return with Form 14039.
- As you work to reclaim your identity, make a copy of your tax return and store it in a safe place. Be sure to keep the name of any representatives you talk to and copies of any letters or emails you send.
- Remember that if a thief tries to file a return in your name using your personal information, the underlying problem still remains: some how, some way your personal data has been compromised. Even though you filed your tax return early, you still need to make sure your stolen data isn’t used in other ways. You’ll want to learn what data was lost or stolen and how.
Tax-refund identity theft is scary. Learn everything you can about ID theft and arm yourself with tools to help prevent it and help fix it. Then hopefully this tax season will be a good one for you.
Wishing you happy returns!