ATLANTA -- Every tax season there are many cases where identities are stolen and fraudulent returns are filed.
The 11Alive Help Desk wants to help you protect your tax records and minimize your chance of becoming a victim.
Identity theft occurs when a thief uses a legitimate taxpayer's personal information such as your name, Social Security Number (SSN) and address without your permission and files a tax return to get the refund. The IRS says fraudulent returns are filed early in the tax season so the thief can be sure to file before the victim.
You could be completely unaware that someone has used your information until you file later in the season and the IRS discovers that two returns have been filed under the same SSN. If this happens you will receive a letter in the mail from the IRS.
You should follow the instructions of the letter and respond immediately. You will also need to fill out the IRS identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. You can also call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit Hotline if you believe you make be at risk due to questionable credit card activity, lost/stolen wallet, etc.
The IRS says you can prevent identity left by leaving your Social Security card or any document with your SSN on it at home. Also, don't give out your information over the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and are sure the source is trustworthy.