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What should you do if someone files taxes using your Social Security number?

On average, the IRS reports hundreds of thousands, sometimes more than a million, of confirmed cases of fraudulent tax filings every year. While the IRS has security measures to help verify the accuracy of filers' tax returns and the validity of Social Security numbers, some fraudulent filings are bound to get through. What should you do if you're one of those unlucky people?

Woman confused while filing taxes on laptop at home.

Notify the IRS Immediately

If someone else has fraudulently filed your taxes, you're probably unaware until you try to file your return, or the IRS might send you a letter letting you know they've identified a suspicious return that includes your SSN.

If you received a letter saying that a previously received filing may be fraudulent, respond immediately. Remember, the IRS will never make initial contact with you via phone or email, so think twice before responding to an email or phone call from anyone claiming to be from the IRS. If you're unsure about the letter's legitimacy, you can contact the IRS directly to ask if it's legit or fraudulent.

If you received a notice while filing online, visit the IRS's dedicated Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft page for the most up-to-date instructions. As of the writing of this article, the IRS asked individuals who suspect their taxes may have been fraudulently filed to complete IRS Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit, attach the form to their tax return, and submit their filing by mail.

File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

This can be done online via the FTC's website. The site will also walk you through the step-by-step process of creating an identity theft report and recovery plan.

Add a Fraud Alert to Your Credit Report

If you haven't already done so, contact all three major credit reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your credit report with each. Several types of fraud alerts can be placed, depending on whether or not you've experienced fraud before. Alerts can be set online, but you may need to call to verify you are who you say you are.

Call Your Bank, Credit Union, and Credit Card Providers

Contact your financial institution(s) and let them know you've experienced fraud using your personal information and see what help they can offer. Many institutions can add a fraud alert or other precautions to your banking profile to help you keep your money and information more secure, such as a passcode.

Sign Up for Identity Theft Monitoring

Filing someone else's tax returns requires the fraudster to have a decent amount of your personal information. Unfortunately, this tax season may not be the last time they use your information.

For consistent, proactive information monitoring, think about signing up for a credit monitoring or identity theft protection service. Several companies monitor the web and other databases for any use of your personal information. Many will even work with you if you become the victim of identity theft or if you have to spend money for one reason or another due to a theft. While these services typically include an annual or monthly membership fee, they can serve as a valuable layer of additional protection—especially if you've experienced identity theft in the past or are a victim of a data breach.

WaFd Bank is Here to Help

From products and services that make banking easy to checking accounts offering credit and identity theft monitoring, WaFd Bank is here for you! Open an account online, contact your local branch, or give us a call at 800-324-9375 to learn more!

Visit My WaFd Wins for details and disclosures about credit and identity theft monitoring and many other benefits.

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