What is Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF)? In short, it’s when fraudsters file a tax return in your name.
In this type of fraud, thieves don’t need contact with the victim. If they have your name and Social Security Number (SSN), they can file an early tax return in your name and claim a refund. You won’t know until you e-file and it’s rejected because someone has already submitted a return for your SSN or if filing by mail, until you receive a rejection notice in the mail.
Your SSN is the key to filing a tax return. Your return will be rejected without it or if it is entered incorrectly! Fraudsters need your number to file a return in your name and have sneaky ways of stealing it, such as:
- Hacking into a business’ database to look for Personal Identifiable Information (PII).
- Impersonating an IRS employee on the phone asking for PII.
- Pretending to be tax agents or officials in email requests for PII.
The first and most important step in preventing SIRF is keeping your SSN private! You can do this by:
- Never carrying your social security card in your wallet or purse.
- Never give out your SSN or other personal information over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from the IRS.
- Ignore and delete emails asking for your SSN, even if they claim to be from a legitimate source.
It is important to know that Ascentra, nor any other bank, financial institution, or tax authority should never ask for this information during an unexpected phone call or email. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of SIRF, the IRS can help. They recommend that you take the following steps immediately:
- Answer any IRS written notice you receive by calling the number provided on the notice or visiting IDVerify.irs.gov.
- Fill out IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit and attach it to your tax return.
- File tax returns and pay your taxes even as the fraud is being resolved.
- File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit records by phoning one of the three principal credit agencies.