Identity theft can result in significant damage to your credit and can lead to investigations and audits by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you have been a victim of identity theft, here are some considerations that may help you weather this stressful time.
Consider the Source
Identity thieves can access sensitive data through computer network resources, by stealing your wallet or purse, by accessing your cell phone and through a wide range of other activities.
In some cases, you may be approached directly or through email or telephone contact by an individual seeking personal information. This process is called phishing and is one of the most common tactics used by would-be identity thieves.
Working With the Feds
If your identity has been stolen and used to obtain tax refunds or other benefits, your best course of action is to work directly with the IRS to find the culprits and to reestablish your identity.
You can also file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to begin the investigation process. The IC3 does not look into complaints of identity theft directly; instead, it forwards the information you provide to the appropriate agencies throughout the federal government.
Discovering Identity Theft
You may not be aware that your identifying information has been compromised until you attempt to file a tax return online. If two returns are filed for one Social Security number (SSN) or if wages that you did not earn are reported for your SSN, the Internal Revenue Service will typically contact you through the mail to inform you of the issue.
By responding quickly to letters sent by the IRS, you can more effectively protect yourself against some of the more damaging effects of identity theft.
Repairing Credit Damage
The three major credit agencies have procedures in place to help you repair your credit after an identity theft incident. In most cases, if you report suspected identity theft to one credit bureau, all three will be alerted to the situation.
Fraud reports remain in place on your credit reports for 90 days, after which time you will need to renew these alerts. Examining your credit reports carefully can help you to identify any companies that may have issued credit to identity thieves in your name.
Identity Theft Reports
The Federal Trade Commission can help you create an identity theft report to support your efforts to reclaim your good name. If credit accounts have been opened in your name, you may need to contact each credit issuer individually.
Filing an identity theft report can also provide added support for your tax defense in the event that the IRS begins an audit or investigation of your tax returns in response to activities associated with identity fraud.
By acting quickly to present a positive defense against identity theft and to correct any tax issues that may have arisen due to the actions of unscrupulous individuals, you can often achieve a greater measure of control in handling a case of identity theft.
About the author: Mary Sutton is a Senior Writer for Fertile Content and a frequent guest contributor to many blogs Google+