While the vast majority of consumers will file their taxes and receive any refunds due without incident, an unlucky few will learn during the process that returns have already been filed in their names by scammers.
If you run into problems when you file, you may be a victim of tax identity theft. The following are indications that someone may have misused your identity to file a fraudulent return:
- multiple returns were filed under your Social Security number,
- you receive a letter or refund check regarding a return you did not file, or
- you owe additional taxes or are facing collection actions for a year you did not file a return.
The risk of tax identity theft is very real in Wisconsin. In recent years, tax identity theft has been a key element of identity theft complaints received by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
“The best way to protect yourself from the risk of tax identity theft is to keep your financial and
personally identifiable information (such as your Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank account numbers, etc.) under lock and key throughout the year,” said Michelle Reinen, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Before you file, you can check whether a 2017 Wisconsin income tax return has been filed in your
name by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Revenue website (https://revenue.wi.gov; click on the “Online Services” link at the top of the homepage).
If you believe that you may be the victim of tax identity theft, report the suspected fraud by phone to the IRS (1-800-829-0433) and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (1-608-266-2486).(NOTE: The IRS advises taxpayers to continue paying their taxes and filing their returns even if they suspect that they may be victims of identity theft.)
DATCP’s Consumer Protection Bureau offers a Tax ID Theft packet online (https://datcp.wi.gov) to assist consumers with next steps to protect against additional harm, and callers to the agency’s Consumer Protection Hotline (1-800-422-7128) can inquire about ways to further protect their identities.