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Control Identity Theft and Credit Scores

There are now a few new weapons to help you battle identity theft.  A federal law gives consumers the right to receive a copy of your credit report once every 12 months free of charge, or if you are refused credit on an application.  This law was designed to encourage Americans to keep a closer watch on their credit report and cut back on identity theft.

 

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, each are required to provide you with an annual credit file disclosure upon request (therefore you must request it).  Now there are some credit card companies that freely give your credit score on the monthly credit card statements. On others, you must still request and pay, though, to get a credit score. It is not part of the new free credit report annual provision.

 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reported that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) failed to investigate thousands of identity theft cases, because taxpayers filed an incorrect tax return.  The IRS used to use Form 3949-A (Information Referral) to report suspected cases of tax fraud in 2012. However, the instructions were very confusing, and many people used this form to report identity theft cases. The IRS destroyed those forms because prior to May 2012, there were no procedures in place to process them as identity theft cases.

 

Today there are now current procedures in place that allow for Form 3949-A to be accepted as a report for identity theft. If you use the form, you must attach a copy of your police report and valid identification. If you want to report identity theft without sending a copy of your police report and picture identification, the IRS accepts Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit). As soon as you find out your identity has been compromised, you should contact the IRS immediately, by filing either Form 3949-A or Form 14039. Be sure to also contact everyone you bank with, do business with, and file personal information with about the ID theft.

 

Reporting Identity Theft to the IRS will delay your refund, but it will also ensure that you receive it rather than the ID thief. Chances are you will receive a check, rather than direct deposit refund into your checking or savings account. Also you will receive an ID Theft personal identification number (PIN) to use when filing future returns to ensure your return is the correct one.

 

If you end up spending money to prosecute an identity thief, either through attorney’s fees or other fines, the out of pocket money could be considered a Casualty Loss. This could be an allowed deduction on your personal tax return. Casualty losses are given a better tax deduction than a normal itemized deduction. It is considered an Ordinary Loss, is not subject to Alternative Minimum Taxes, and could help you reduce your tax liability against any other income you might have.

 

Further, if you are a victim of identity theft, you must paper file your tax return. You cannot e-file!! Be sure to attach a completed and signed IRS Form 14039, along with a copy of your current driver’s license or passport, to be submitted with your original tax return. This will ensure your refund is sent to you and your tax records are correctly placed in your name.

 

This is also important to make sure your Social Security records reflect correct information towards your benefits later in life.

Here are several steps the IRS suggests you can take to help protect yourself against identity theft:

  • Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
  • Protect your financial information.
  • Check your credit report at least every 12 months.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and are sure of the recipient.

 

 

 

Here are some points to remember:

 

All three credit reporting bureaus are required to give an annual credit report (if requested). But you must still pay to acquire a credit score from the credit reporting companies

 

Ways to get credit reports are as follows:

1.      Visit the website at www.annualcreditreport.com

 

2.      Write to:     Annual Credit Report Request Service

                                P.O. BOX 105283

                               Atlanta, GA 30348

3.      Call:    Toll Free at (877) 322-8228

 

Use IRS form 14039 along with a copy of your driver’s license or passport to file with your original tax return, if you are a victim of identity theft, to ensure your refund is sent to you. And to be sure your income records are correct with the Social Security Administration.

 

Contact your bank, credit card companies, Social Security Administration and all financial institutions you are associated with.

 

Contact your tax professional to seek assistance on instructions.

 

 

Call today, don’t delay! See how this affects you. We can be reached at 602-264-9331.

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