Identity Theft and Your 1040? Believe It!
February 12, 2014
By David Fields, CPA
As we have all been made aware of recently, identity theft is big business. Everyday we’re hearing new stories concerning the loss of such personally identifiable information as credit card and social security numbers. From Target, to Nordstrom’s, to Michael’s, many of us have or will be affected at some point without having done anything wrong.
These so-called “privacy breaches” affect vast numbers of people, often in the tens of millions, and usually at the retail level; but did you know it’s no different when it comes to filing your tax return? At EisnerAmper, we are seeing more and more fraudulent returns filed early in the season using stolen social security numbers. When the real owners of these stolen numbers file their actual returns they discover to their horror that the IRS has already received a return identified with their number and, even worse, a refund check has already been sent out – obviously to an address accessed by the fraudster. Meanwhile the victim’s return has been immediately flagged by the IRS and a year-long process begins trying to get their “tax life” back in order.
There are slightly more than one million households on Long Island – that’s a lot of 1040s to be filed and lots of opportunities for hackers and other cyber-criminals. Bottom line – safeguard your social security number and date of birth at all times. If these two items along with your name and address get in the wrong hands, you will be at the mercy of dealing with the IRS until your identity theft is resolved.