WHO FILED MY TAX RETURN? Identity Theft and its consequences

As you prepare to file your tax return in the upcoming months one problem that has grown is identity theft. Thieves steal your identity in order to file fraudulent tax returns. Taxpayers find out this has occurred when they file their tax return, are then informed a tax return has already been filed using their social security number. How is your financial data obtained and what do you do?

Hidden identity of a hacker with mask

The IRS reports your data is stolen 91% of the time with “Spear Phishing Emails”. This is when an individual receives an email from someone who appears to be a trusted source, when in reality it is a criminal. You open the attachment to the email which allows the thief to obtain your passwords or downloads malware that tracks your keystrokes or obtain control of your computer. Once the thief secures your financial data they utilize it to obtain fraudulent bank accounts, credit cards, and file tax returns.


If your financial data is stolen and a fraudulent tax return was filed using your social security number you should: 1 File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov. 2 Place a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus Equifax 888-766-0008, Experian 888-397-3742, and TransUnion 800-680-7289.  3 File Identity Theft Affidavit Form 14039 with the IRS. 4 You will need to paper file your tax return (federal and state). 5 Request a 6-digit Identity Protection Pin from the IRS at irs.gov/getanippin.  6 Notify the MA- DOR 617-887-6367 or via MassTaxConnect. 6 Notify the MA Attorney General. 8 File a Police report. 8 Obtain a credit report from each Credit Bureau to close all fraudulent accounts.


After you report Identity Theft to the IRS you can expect: you will paper file your tax return with Identity Theft Affidavit Form 14039, as you will not be able to file electronically. IRS will issue you an acknowledgement letter. Your tax return will be processed by Identity Theft Victim Assistance department by staff that has specialized training. Your case should be finalized between 120 to 180 days. This is a long and arduous process, so please be patient.


How to avoid a data breach: Always be vigilant with emailing anyone your financial data including your social security number. When receiving an email request be sure to open the detailed email address to determine whether the email is accurate. If you have any doubt regarding an emailed request, call the person who is requesting the data. Your computer should utilize software and hardware that will keep it secure such as: security software, firewall, malware/virus software, use robust passwords and back up your computer regularly.

Identity Theft is a burdensome situation that will try your patience every step of the way. What you will need to keep in mind is that once you report to a government agency your identity is stolen, each government agency employee will require you to prove your identity with every telephone call. To relieve some of the stress, you should consider writing to government agencies when needed.


Please be vigilant with your financial data and only submit it to a known source.


Thomas D. Terranova, Jr., CPA, PFS, CITP is managing member of Terranova & Associates, LLC and member of the AICPA and MA Society of CPA’s.

Jit Lee Billings, CPA is managing member of Terranova & Associates, LLC and member of the AICPA and MA Society of CPA’s.

Terranova & Associates, LLC is located in Danvers and contact be contact at 978-774-7700 for consultations.

Posted by Terranova & Associates LLC

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