Identity theft is a fast-growing crime. Identity thieves continue to target credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions to steal personal information. They use stolen identities to get: tax refunds, health and welfare benefits, utilities, insurance, employment, and rental agreements.
Often thieves target the elderly, children, and even deceased people. But everyone is at risk. Some methods include:
- Stealing a purse or wallet
- Breaking into a mailbox
- Rifling through trash bins
- Scam phone calls or emails
- Identifying and stopping tax identity theft wherever possible, and
- Helping victims to safely file their tax returns and receive the refunds they are entitled to.
How we protect identity theft victims
When the Tax Commission suspects or receives a report of identity theft, we flag the tax account. This stops any refund from processing. We contact the account owner to verify the owner’s identity. In this way, we make sure we’re issuing refunds to the correct individuals.
If you think your refund has been delayed longer than expected, call Taxpayer Services at (208) 334-7660 in the Boise area or toll-free at (800) 972-7660 to check on it.
Future tax filings
The IRS has a process that allows victims of identity theft to continue e-filing their federal tax returns using a special number that changes each year.
Idaho uses a different process. When you file future tax returns, we’ll ask you to take extra steps to identify yourself before we issue any refunds. These steps may include: entering a PIN (number) online, taking a quiz, or sending us additional identity documents.
The Tax Commission analyzes all our identity theft data and works with the IRS and other state agencies to spot trends and take actions to counteract them. Our goal is to prevent similar attempts to steal state refund money using stolen identities.
Types of identity theft related to tax filing
This happens when thieves use stolen Social Security numbers (SSNs) to file tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds.
Often the real SSN owners don’t know about the theft until the Tax Commission or IRS contacts them: The IRS or Tax Commission has discovered two returns e-filed using the same SSN.
- Some thieves only file false federal (IRS) tax returns.
- Other thieves file in multiple states using the stolen ID.
Idaho is part of a network of many states that shares identity theft reports. This helps reduce tax identity theft — but not all states are part of this network.
Dependent identity theft
This happens when people claim dependents on a tax return when they’re not entitled to do so.
This enables the thief to wrongly claim the:
- Earned Income Tax Credit (federal)
- Additional Child Tax Credit (federal)
- Idaho Grocery Tax Credit
- Idaho Child Tax Credit
Employment identity theft
Identity thieves can use stolen SSNs to get a job. Sometimes they use their own name, or they might use the true owner’s name instead.
Employers must report wages paid to employees to the Idaho Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration. They use the SSN as identification. If a thief is using your SSN, that reported income might mix with your actual income on reports.
- On income you didn’t earn
- From a company you didn’t work for
- From a state you’ve never lived or worked in
Reporting tax identity theft: Report. Plan. Act.
If you’re a victim of identity theft and are concerned about your taxes being affected, contact the Tax Commission and the IRS as soon as possible.
- Complete IRS form 14039 – Identity Theft Affidavit. Make three copies, keeping one copy for your records.
- Mail one copy to the Tax Commission’s tax identity theft unit at: Identity Theft, Idaho State Tax Commission, PO Box 36, Boise ID 83722-0410. Once the Tax Commission receives a copy of a Form 14039, we flag your account. (See “How we protect identity theft victims,” above.)
- Mail or fax a copy to the IRS at the address provided on the form.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov. The website allows you to make a report to the FTC, fill out a Form 14039 and lists valuable steps to follow:
- Call the companies where you know the fraud occurred.
- Get your credit reports. Check your credit reports for unauthorized activity using Annual Credit Report.com. By law, you’re entitled to check each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year at no charge. Each time you suffer an identity theft incident, you’re entitled to an additional free credit report, but you’ll need to provide a police report for each incident to add a fraud victim alert.
- File a police report. The Tax Commission can’t do this for you, nor can we provide information directly to law enforcement officials.
- Notify your financial institution and other creditors. Close new accounts in your name. You should close any accounts that have been tampered with. Your bank can help you open new accounts.