Follow corrective steps if you are a tax-identity
SEATTLE — Identity theft is a growing problem nationwide, and
Washington is no exception. In early March 2014 the Seattle Archdiocese learned
that volunteers and employees at parishes and schools became victims of a
tax-identity fraud scheme.
Through a data breach, fraudsters obtained victims’ personal
information, including their names and Social Security numbers and filed false
income tax returns.
The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has received reports from
parishioners and employees throughout Western Washington who have been
victimized. Some of these individuals discovered they were victims after filing
their taxes and being informed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that their
tax return was rejected because a return had already been filed under their name
and Social Security number.
The Archdiocese hasn’t discovered the source of the breach and is
working with federal investigators on an investigation. The Archdiocese also
hired a national forensic firm to investigate this matter.
If you are a victim of tax-identity fraud, the AGO urges you to
take the following steps.
Determine if you’re the victim of
tax-identity fraud, then follow these corrective steps
To check if your identity has been stolen, contact the IRS by
calling the Individual Tax Line at 1-800-829-1040, or go in-person to the IRS
office at 915 Second Ave. Seattle, Wash.
Correcting tax-identity fraud is a multi-step process, involving
the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), police and credit bureaus.
If you know your identity has been stolen
- Contact the IRS Identity
Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
- Complete and file the IRS
Form 14039 “Identity Theft Affidavit” (You must file a copy of your driver’s license, passport, or
other government-issued identification with this).
- Submit an “Identity Theft
Report” to the FTC by following the directions on the FTC’s website, here. You will be assigned a
- Print and fill out a copy
of the FTC’s “Identity Theft Victim’s Complaint and Affidavit.” This form can then be filed with
local police and creditors.
- File a report with your
local police department.
- Include a copy of the FTC
Identity Theft Victim’s Complaint and Affidavit.
- The police department will
assign you a case or reference number.
- Call the FTC at 1-877-438-4338 to
report the assigned police case number (You will need the complaint number you
obtained when you initially filed the FTC Identity Theft Report to complete
- Consider placing a credit
freeze on your credit report. Learn more about a credit freeze, here.
- Periodically request a
free copy of your credit report and review it thoroughly. You can request a
copy online at AnnualCreditReport.com, or by calling 1-877-322-8228 (you will be asked for your Social
- If someone has used your
Social Security number for employment purposes, report this to the Social
Security Administration. You can contact the Social Security Administration at:
If your identity has not been stolen, but you
believe it is vulnerable
- Call the IRS Identity
Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 and ask them to place a fraud
alert in your file.
- Consider placing a fraud
alert on your credit report. You can place a fraud alert by contacting
one of the three major credit-reporting agencies:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285,
website link, here.
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742, website link, here.
- Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289, website link, here.
You will be asked to provide your Social Security Number. The
agency you contact will share your request with the other two.
Protect yourself from identity
- Don’t carry your Social
Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN)
or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
- Don’t give a business your
SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Protect your financial
- Check your credit report
every 12 months.
- Secure personal
information in your home.
- Protect your personal
computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security
patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal
information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have
initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
For more information about
identity theft and credit freezes, visit the Attorney General’s website, here.
Visit the Seattle Archdiocese website for updates on the
data breach, here.
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