Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF)

This is the time of year where Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) is discovered by consumers:

Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) is a crime where thieves steal the tax identity of their victim. By using the victim’s name and social security number they file a false return with the IRS and a refund request is made. In a lot of cases the refund is issued and the IRS is unaware a crime has occurred. Unsuspecting victims submit what they think is the only return of the year and are completely surprised when they are informed by the IRS that a return has already been filed and processed.

As many of us know from firsthand experience, or by hearing what others have endured, id theft it is a difficult and time consuming mess to untangle. Unfortunately when dealing with the IRS there might be consequences to credit scores as well as other problems. The IRS has put some procedures into place to try and combat this frustrating crime including hiring thousands of full-time employees to work solely on identifying fraud, but even with new more help billions were stolen in refunds by ID thieves in 2013.

So what should tax payers do if they suspect they are a victim of this crime?

  • Fill out a Identity Theft Affidavit and submit it to the IRS (form 14039)
  • Get an IRS IP PIN number – unique 6-digit code the IRS created to identify the rightful filer. This code is issued only for victims of fraud.
  • Expect a resolution to take 180 days at minimum but most likely over a year
  • Put a fraud alert on all credit bureaus since once you become a victim other ID theft incidence could occur with credit cards, loan apps, and more.
  • The IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit is available at 1-800-908-4490 if you would like to speak directly with them.

How can consumers protect themselves from SIRF and other types of ID Theft?

  • Always shred all documents that have any personal information before throwing them in the garbage.
  • Change password codes consistently for bank accounts and online sign in info.
  • Have a lock on all mailboxes that can be easily accessed by the road.
  • Do not carry social security card or number in your purse or wallet in case it is stolen.
  • Do not carry all your credit cards in your purse or wallet. Only carry what is needed that day or week.
  • Have firewalls and security software on computers.
  • Keep tax returns, bank statements, and other important documents in a locked secure place.
  • Do not use debt cards in stores since machines that scan and take pin numbers could be hacking information.
  • Monitor your credit on a daily basis and pay attention to your credit card bills. Scan them for any unknown charges and report to the creditor if found.
  • Do not give your personal information and social security number to anyone who calls you via phone requesting it. Always call the creditor back independently to confirm it was a legitimate request.
  • Do not give your passwords or usernames to others.