I filed my taxes last weekend and thankfully, everything went well. I couldn’t resist asking my accountant if he’s ever seen anyone who had been surprised by the income numbers the IRS has for them. He said that sadly, yes. He has had clients who find out they have been victims of identity theft when filing taxes. He couldn’t go into specific details but told me that any accountant who has been working for a few years had seen a situation where someone else used the victim’s Social Security number (SSN) to get a job.
The Social Security administration has a good online leaflet “Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number” that discusses this very topic. In the leaflet, it notes that once a SSN is stolen, it can cause a lot of problems. Especially if that person is using your SSN for work purposes as it affects your total amount of declared earnings. If you suspect that someone else is using your SSN for employment, contact the IRS immediately. You may also review your earnings posted to your record on your Social Security statement.
From the IRS:
An identity thief might also use your Social Security number to file a tax return in order to receive a refund. If the thief files the tax return before you do, the IRS will believe you already filed and received your refund if eligible. If your Social Security number is stolen, another individual may use it to get a job. That person’s employer would report income earned to the IRS using your Social Security number, making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return. If you think you may have tax issues because someone has stolen your identity, contact the IRS Identity Protection Unit at www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html or call 1-800-908-4490.
As always, a few queries can help you determine if your SSN is being used by someone else. For more tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft, visit ProtectMyID.