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Repairing the damage done when a criminal steals your identity is a complex, time-consuming and exasperating exercise.
When your ID is used to commit tax return fraud, you face an additional level of frustration because of the Internal Revenue Service’s strict rules regarding privacy.
The IRS, however, has come to realize that some taxpayer data needs to be shared to fight tax identity thieves. The federal tax agency announced in October that it, its state counterparts and tax industry partners now will share more filing information among themselves in their continuing efforts to stop tax ID theft and return fraud.
Now the IRS says it will share some information about fraudulent filings with the victims whose identities were used on the fake 1040s.
Victims want to know
“We know that identity theft is a frustrating process for victims, and we are taking aggressive steps to stop fraudulent returns before they are processed,” the IRS says on its website. “We understand victims want to know more about the information used on the fraudulent returns using their Social Security number.”
Such victims now can request a copy of the fraudulent federal return filed in their names.
However, the IRS isn’t throwing out all its privacy rules. Some of the information on fraudulent returns sent to tax ID theft victims will be blacked out.
In addition, the IRS is not releasing copies of identity theft returns that it is still working to resolve.
And only individuals whose names and Social Security numbers are listed on the fraudulent return as either the primary or secondary taxpayers can request a copy of the fake document. That means if you (or one of your children) are listed as a dependent on a fraudulent return, you won’t be able to get a copy of that filing.
Written request required
If you do qualify to get a copy of a return that was illegally filed under your name and Social Security number, the IRS has created a special Web page with details on how to do so.
Basically, you’ll need to send the IRS a letter that includes:
- Your name and Social Security number,
- Your mailing address,
- The tax year or years requested, and
- The statement, “I declare that I am the taxpayer.”
To back up your declaration that you are the real you, you’ll need to include a copy of your government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
The IRS says it will acknowledge any request within 30 days after it receives it. You should get a copy of the fraudulent return, or any follow-up correspondence, within 90 days.
Psychological rather than practical relief
So what good will such information do a tax identity theft victim? The dirty deed is done and you can’t change that.
You can, however, get an idea of just what kind of personal information was stolen, or at least used on the fake refund.
And that’s a valuable part of an identity theft victim’s recovery process.
The best defense against identity theft is a good offense. You should be aware of who’s looking at your personal data.
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