It seems like every other week I hear of a data breach at a company which either directly or indirectly may have my personal data. In fact, it is such a common occurrence, for some people the reaction might turn from being proactive and checking their accounts for fraud to more of a wait-and-see. The problem with the latter approach is then it is too late. Then what?
After your information is compromised there are specific steps that need to be taken. Do you know what they are? I didn’t. I decided to set off on a quick Google search and found two very useful sites worth bookmarking. Hopefully you never have to use them but they contain the information you need.
State of California Department of Justice – Office of the Attorney General Xavier Becerra: https://oag.ca.gov/idtheft/facts/victim-checklist
Here you will find the “Identity Theft Victim Checklist”. A comprehensive list inclusive of links to the Federal Trade Commission and various other resources. You will also find sample letters to follow to report your specific situation to various authorities.
United States Department of Justice – Identity Theft: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/identity-theft/identity-theft-and-identity-fraud
Here you will find similar resources and information as the California site but also other menu items you may find of interest.
While identity theft may be unavoidable, the IRS and many state governments are taking proactive steps to safeguard refunds. The IRS is specifically delaying returns with refundable credits (i.e. Earned Income Tax Credits and refundable Child Tax Credits) until late February. They’ve also implemented security checks to verify the returns contain anticipated data (for example W-2 information already processed by Social Security Administration). However, they haven’t provided specific details on these new security measures.
Many states have also increased security measures. Some states now require drivers license information be included with efiled returns. Others recommend drivers license information is included, but do not require it yet. It looks like these states will require the information in the future.
Even though the IRS and state agencies do their best to protect taxpayers from falsified returns, it is still primarily up to individuals to protect themselves. If you do suspect fraud, it is important to report it as quickly as possible.