IDENTITY THEFT – Don’t Let It Happen To You

We hear about identity theft often these days. Yes, we may get tired of hearing about it, but identity theft is running rampant and we all need to protect ourselves as best as we can. 

What should you look for and what to do if you suspect being the target of identity theft?

  • Did you receive notification that your tax return had already been filed? 
  • Were you entitled to a refund on income taxes but never received your refund?  When you inquired, you were informed that the refund had been issued?  BUT, you never received it?
  • Did you receive a letter from the IRS regarding your identity?  This would be a paper letter.  A telephone call, fax, text or email would not be from the IRS, so don’t fall prey to the scam.  And, if someone showed up at your door claiming to be the IRS, be suspicious.  Don’t fall for contacts through social media as well.
  • You filed your return and received notification that additional tax was owed.
  • Did you receive a collection notice from the IRS when your returns were filed and no tax was due?
  • There was an offset of a refund. You may not find this out until you file your return the following year expecting to receive a refund.
  • Did the IRS notify you that you didn’t claim income from an employer or financial institution that you were not employed by or had accounts with?

OK, so you have experienced one of the above situations. What do you do now?

  • File a complaint with the FTC at
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on their credit records.
  • Contact your financial institutions to close any financial or credit accounts opened without permission or that were tampered with by identity thieves.
  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice and call the number provided in the letter.
  • Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. You can use a fillable form on, print it, then attach the form to your tax return and mail according to instructions.

If you have previously been in contact with the IRS and did not have a resolution to your matter, you can contact the specialized Assistance Agency at 1-800-908-4490 for further assistance.

You can do your civic duty by reporting suspicious online or emailed phishing scams to or by calling 1-800-366-4484. 

Be proactive, not reactive.



About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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