Filing your taxes can be stressful, especially if you’re not confident making calculations or you haven’t kept track of your expenditure and earnings throughout the year. Some people even leave filing until the last minute and find themselves on the brink of receiving penalties from the IRS. 

While penalties are unpleasant, it can be far more disturbing to discover that someone has filed taxes with your social security number. Fortunately, you should be able to solve this issue by taking some of the steps below. 

Step 1: Hire a Tax Professional

By hiring a tax agent, you may be able to extend your tax filing deadline and have extra time to get to the bottom of what’s happened. Tax agents can look over your filing information, try to file on your behalf, and see if they’re met with the same issue. If your tax agent confirms that you’re a victim of fraud, they can guide you through taking the next necessary steps. 

Step 2: Notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Most Americans only find out that someone can fraudulently file your taxes when they attempt to file and receive a message saying it has already been done. It happens frequently, with millions of fraudulent claims made annually.   

Once your tax agent has confirmed the problem, contact the IRS as soon as possible. They may have no idea that you weren’t the one filing your taxes. If they did pick it up, there may be a letter on its way to you. 

If you receive a letter, there is a phone number to ring to straighten the problem out. The IRS will never contact you by email or phone about such an issue, so only trust and follow information outlined in a letter sent to your registered address. 

If you were made aware of your filing activity when you filed, visit the IRS’s ‘Taxpayer Guide to Identify Theft’ page. This page includes instructions on what to do next, including filling out an Identity Theft Affidavit Form 14039. 

Step 3: Make a Complaint With the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

As there are millions of tax filing fraud cases in the US annually, the government makes it easy to report your situation and make a plan to recover your identity. 

You can visit the FTC’s Identity Theft website, which provides three easy steps: tell them what happened, get a recovery plan, and put that plan into action. You’ll be guided through this process every step of the way. 

Step 4: Request a Credit Report Fraud Alert

The last thing you want is for your credit score to be affected by someone taking your personal information and racking up debt in your name. As soon as you’re aware of fraud, add a fraud alert to your credit report. 

This alert functions as a red flag for creditors and lenders. As soon as someone using your identity tries to take out a loan or credit card, they will be required to carry out extra steps to confirm their identity, which they likely won’t be able to do. 

Step 5: Inform Your Bank Know

To ensure you aren’t further disadvantaged by fraud, contact your card providers and banks to tell them what happened. They can add alerts to your accounts to keep your information and money as secure as possible. 

As frustrating as being a victim of fraud can be, it is a solvable problem. Hire a tax agent to assist with filing and make sure the IRS is aware of your situation. You can then take steps to secure your personal information and file with confidence.