Identity theft is a fast-growing crime. Thieves steal identities to use a victim’s credit, but also to get tax refunds and government and medical benefits.
Thieves can get your identity by taking your wallet, phone, or mail. They can obtain your information through data breaches at your work or at the businesses you use. They can also trick you into giving them your information.
Watch out for:
- Emails, letters, phone calls, or texts asking for personal information or passwords. This is true even if the communication says it’s from someone you know such as your bank, a government agency, a business you use, or a relative.
- Any communication urging you to pay, call, visit a website, or click a link now.
- Any communication that threatens you with consequences – such as jail time, lost money, or lost data – if you don’t respond immediately.
When in doubt, look up the sender yourself on the internet or from old correspondence you know is from them. Then, contact the sender to see if the communication is legitimate.
Indications you might be a victim
Here are some indicators that you might be a victim of identity theft:
- Your credit card or bank statements show unfamiliar charges.
- You receive an explanation of benefits from your medical insurance provider for services you didn’t receive.
- You’ve stopped receiving your regular mail, such as bills.
- You’re receiving more than your regular mail. For example, you start getting letters from the IRS, or other states’ tax agencies or unemployment agencies.
- Collectors are calling about debts that aren’t yours. This could include tax bills you don’t know about or a payback for unemployment benefits you didn’t receive.
- The IRS rejects your tax return.
- Your tax preparer, employer, or a business you use notifies you that someone breached its security.
- Your credit report shows unfamiliar accounts or charges.
How we protect identity theft victims
We’re committed to:
- Identifying and stopping tax identity theft wherever possible.
- Helping victims safely file their tax returns and receive the refunds they’re entitled to.
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
Take these actions if you’re an identity theft victim:
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 identity theft, get a recovery plan, and put the plan into action.
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 we receive 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.
- Call the companies where you know the fraud occurred.