The latest trend in identity theft is filing tax returns and collecting fraudulent refunds.
According to KomoNews.com, which was reported on March 18, the Archdiocese of Seattle (Washington State) has had its database breached and numerous individuals have had their social security information stolen. More and more victims of the breach are discovering fraudulent use of the stolen data. The main type of fraud seems to be the filing of tax returns under the stolen identity. This is just one of a growing nationwide trend of identity theft used to file tax returns and collect fraudulent refunds. An Archdiocese spokesperson says they have hired a computer forensics firm to investigate the breach as well as reported the matter to the FBI and the IRS, who are also conducting investigations. It is impossible to tell at this point how many individuals were affected.
The first thing you should do if you suspect your identity has been stolen is file a police report with your local law enforcement agency. It is important that you do this first since you will be given a “police case number” that you will need for any additional steps in the process. You can usually do this over the phone but be sure to keep the “police case number” in your I-D theft file as well as any other information related to your I-D theft situation. You will need your police case number if someone has filed a tax return under your social security number. You will also need to file fraud reports with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
If you discover someone has filed a tax return under your social security number go to the Internal Revenue Service website or call the IRS with your police case number in hand. Once you are on the IRS homepage look for the section on ID Theft Protection and click the link. On the ID Theft Protection page, there should be a link to a special form you need to complete called an Identity Theft Affidavit. Be sure to click save once you complete the form and print it out or save it in your I-D theft file.
The last report you need to file is with the Federal Trade Commission. Go to the FTC homepage and look for a drop down menu in a box labeled Tips and Advice. On this drop down menu, you will find a link marked Consumers. Click on it and it will take you to a page where you can learn how to file an Identity Theft Report with the FTC. This page will also give you valuable advice on monitoring your credit reports to see if any other fraud has taken place. The page also shows how to place a fraud alert on your credit reports but you should still monitor future activity. Another thing you can do is check out LifeLock to help prevent identity theft.