Identity Theft – A Real Life Example

identityMany people have seen the movie Identity Thief. I was one of the many! I truly enjoyed it and laughed. Identity theft in reality is not a joking subject. This post is about the experiences that I have had to share with my mom. She was a victim of tax identity theft. When filing her, 2011 federal tax return, she was sent a letter that her taxes were on hold. She came to visit me and we got on this right away. Below is just some of the steps and some of the happens that she has encountered along the way. Safe to say, that no one wants this to happen to them…

Once she showed me the letter. I called with her on the line, to our IRS hotline number to get a clearer picture of what has happened. The shared with us that this her return has already been sent. That they now have a second return (which was her’s), which they have flagged as possible tax identity theft. The agent on the phone gave me some basic information on next steps. I asked the all important question of how long will it take to get her the money that she is owed? He led us to believe that 30 days from when the id theft process has been done. From June 2012 till today – nothing! I guess 30 days depends on what closed or done means.

Steps that had to be taken – letter from the CPA stating that the taxes in question are in fact “her” taxes. (makes me wonder if you do them yourself – do you write your own letter?). File a report on what happened with your home fraud agency. Which she did. After some time – she received confirmation that she was a victim of tax id theft. She was given some report that definitely showed that these folks are good. They filed her taxes quickly. They had an address in Chicago (my mom has lived 2000 miles away for quite some time). They received $10K in return in a card! News to me that you would want that you can get your return in a card. Second shock – $10K in return. My mom has never received $10K from taxes in her life. The other red flag was the big deduction of continued education. All simple red flags that our IRS should have seen before they process the tax return. I guess it just is processed and looked at later.

Next was a follow up with the IRS office again (45 days had passed!). The answer to that call, was the time to process is running a lot longer than you were quoted back in June 2012. The throughput time is now more like 6 months. Nothing like adding 5 months on… That deadline came up – still no check! She calls again (as 2012 taxes are due now – which she will wait to insure that her name is cleared). They said that go ahead and submit your 2012 taxes that a note will be put in the file so they can process. Guess what? My moms 2012 taxes are held up! Because of the tax identity theft (of 2011).

My mom’s frustration level is at a boiling point. I guess just about everyone else would be just as bad. Me, I try to keep a calming approach to this. I recommend she can again and get an answer to why has this taken so long, what is needed to close this properly and express that you now have 2 years of tax returns that you are not getting that you need. Well, that call only got us to the point of the theft agency has to close the case before they can process. I guess going back to the done part – that was not clearly communicated as the done. Months go by and nothing happens and the answers you get just lead you to believe soon. The next phone call was to the identity theft agency that needs to close the case. That call was not good. They did not have an answer for when the case will close. They hinted to an additional 30 days. Mom was now passed boiling. For maybe the first time that I can remember she hung up on someone. Ouch!

She calls me… Fills me in! I can really sense the frustration. I am getting frustrated. After a few minutes of venting.. I ask her to maybe go to the local theft agency (my mom works in local law enforcement office) and see what maybe they can do from their end. What is the worst that can happen – nothing! Also, I think this one would be an awesome one to hit up the local news “on your side” folks. Maybe they can shake a tree and get the money freed up.

Morale of the story – make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to insure that identity theft is not going to happen to you..

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  • Donna Bell

    Steve it was 2011 and 2012 taxes. Good job remembering most of what I told you. I got a call from the tax payers advocate late this afternoon but I can’t return her call until Monday when she will be back in the office. I also have to call the Sgt. In charge of our Fraud Unit tomorrow. I also am going to call my State Rep to see if he can help me bring some closure to this almost 2 year nightmare. Love you Mom

  • Mom – I made the couple of corrections to the year. It is amazing that the nightmare is almost 2 years old. Maybe closure is just around the corner.

    For folks that get stuck in this loop… Make sure that you are documenting all of your phone calls, emails or whatever other form of communication. Just so, you can say who told you what and when. It has helped my mom’s situation some. Not to closure but at least you have facts to back up your calls.