How do you protect yourself against identity theft?
If you’re paying attention to the news you know that Equifax recently announced a data breach that affects 143 million consumers. Equifax has reported that personal, identifiable information, including Social Security numbers, has been potentially compromised. The number of consumers affected is so large that you should assume your information has been compromised, even if you have not been contacted directly by Equifax.
A data breach of this magnitude could affect you in a multitude of ways, from problems with your credit score and borrowing power to your ability to file your tax return and delays in receipt of your refund. If you think identity theft is not a big deal, consider this: The latest tax filing statistics available are for tax filing season 2016 – which was for the 2015 tax returns. In March 2016, the IRS identified 42,148 tax returns that were fraudulently filed and were eligible for total refunds in excess of $227 million dollars. The IRS identified another $180 million dollars in fraudulent tax refund requests that were identified as fraudulent and not issued. As of February 29, 2016, the IRS confirmed that they stopped more than 31,000 tax returns filed fraudulently. Again, this was all before the Equifax data breach.
In recent years our firm has seen an increase in fraudulent returns filed with clients’ SSNs – and this was before a data breach of this size! We are committed to ensuring the safe and timely filing of your 2017 tax returns, and to that end, we are offering a service specific to the Equifax data breach.
For our clients here in the Willow Grove area we will:
- Search to see if you have been affected.
- Prepare and file an IRS Power of Attorney on your behalf. Your signature on this form allows FJKPC to correspond directly with the IRS on your behalf and ensures all IRS communications to you are sent to us as well. Having a POA on file with the IRS is a good idea regardless of the data breach.
- Register you for Equifax’s FREE extended credit monitoring (NOTE: Equifax dropped the arbitration clause that would previously have forced you to forgo your right to a remedy through the court system).
- Complete the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit and submit it on your behalf. This will secure a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from the IRS for you to use in all future tax filings. This PIN will come to YOU by US Mail from the IRS, in late December 2017 or early January 2018. You agree to share this PIN with FJKPC for use in filing your taxes.
- Repeat the process for all members of your family for whom you would like this done. (Keep in mind that children are often victims of identity theft and fraudulent tax returns.)
We are offering this service at the following tiered rate:
- Individual or family of 2 – $75
- Family of 3 or more – $125
- If there is no known breach for either yourself or your family members, we will notify you and file the Power of Attorney for $50.
An important note: If you do not have a PIN and you have been the victim of identity theft, your return may be rejected or the IRS will hold your refund until you are able to prove your identity to the IRS or the US Treasury.