Identity Theft occurs when an individual uses your personal information to commit fraud whether it be credit card fraud, bank fraud, forged checks, fraudulent tax returns filed to steal your IRS refund or any other sort of criminal theft of your personal confidential
information for financial gain. In today's world with electronic transfers of confidential information being transmitted over the internet, no longer do you need to fear being robbed by a masked bandit. Now the thief can hide behind the cloak of anonimity by using his/her computer to steal from you.
If your identity has been stolen, report it to your bank and credit card company. Close any accounts you know have been compromised. File an identity theft incident report with the police and file an Identity Theft Affidavit with creditors and credit reporting agencies (i.e., TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). In addition, you should obtain a free copy of all of your credit reports so that you can see if there has been any other identity theft committed. You should then consider locking down your credit reports by getting a "credit freeze" from the credit reporting agencies and placing a "fraud alert" with them. A freeze insures that a credit thief cannot open up new credit in your name because a personal identification number (PIN) that you created will be needed to unlock the freeze. By law, if you are the victim of identity theft, the credit reporting agencies must provide you with a credit freeze free of charge. Otherwise, some agencies will request a nominal fee. Credit card, bank and utilities fraud are three of the most common types of identity theft. Recently, there has been a surge of tax fraud committed by criminals who file false tax returns in your name claiming to be entitled to huge refunds. By the time you file your tax return, you could be surprised to learn that the IRS has rejected it, claiming that a return has already been filed in your name. In addition, if your social security number is stolen and used by an illegal alien to get a job, the IRS will think that you have not reported all of your income when the identity thief's employer reports his income to the IRS. Oftentimes, the identity thief is your ex-spouse who is looking to cash in on easy money that he/she knows that you will be expecting as a return from the IRS.
If you suspect that your ex-spouse has filed a false tax return in your name, complete and file IRS form 8857 to get "innocent spouse relief". You should also request a copy of the phony tax return to aid law enforcement. To request a copy of the phony tax return, download and file IRS form 4506. To request a copy of your NYS tax return, download and file form TR-152. If you believe that you have been the victim of identity theft affecting your tax records, you should also download and file form 10439 with the IRS, which is their version of the identity theft affidavit. You can also call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1.800.908.4490. As a further protection if you suspect that someone has fraudulently e-filed a tax return in your name or used a fraudulent W-2 in your name, download form 3949A and file it with the IRS.
Dan Engstrand, Esq. has concentrated in the area of Identity Theft. Dan Engstrand has written and lectured extensively in this area. He has been involved in litigation involving Identity Theft in both state and federal courts. Often a class action is necessary when there is a wide-scale identity theft of confidential consumer information from businesses that have been hacked into. Frequently these businesses put their own self-interests above that of their customers by not behaving as responsible corporate citizens. They do not want the public to know that their databases have been hacked into. Failure to timely report these breaches in their security to their customers is not only a violation of law, but it can also cause their unsuspecting customers to become victims of identity theft by criminals who use their confidential information with impunity during the time that these businesses fail to report the theft.
Identity theft is one of the largest and fastest growing crimes in the world. If you think you've been victimized, don't wait. Call us today. The longer you wait, the more damage will be done to your good credit and reputation.