January is a prime month for identity theft because criminals may wait to use information they illegally obtained in previous months to submit a fake tax return in your name.
Then, criminals receive your tax refund, according to Laura Heilman, security awareness training and education manager for Enterprise Information Technology Services.
If you believe someone may have stolen your identity-or you suspect your Social Security number may have been used in connection with tax fraud-you may need to file IRS Form 14039 “Identity Theft Affidavit.”
“Filing this form places a flag on your tax account and minimizes the opportunity for an identity thief to collect your tax return before you can,” Heilman said.
However, the IRS warns that filing Form 14039 will significantly delay your tax refund.
If you file Form 14039 ahead of your tax return, the IRS notes that you should mail the form and required identity documentation to the address on the 14039 form.
If mailing the form and required identification documentation with your tax return, simply mail the form and the return to your usual processing center.
If you file a joint return, you do not have to file a Form 14039 for your spouse unless their personal information also was compromised.