Many people come to rely on their tax refund as part of their annual income, which is why a stolen tax refund check can be a really big problem. Not only are you losing out on money that is rightfully yours, it can also feel like a huge violation to have these funds snatched away when you are expecting to receive them. Read on if you find yourself saying, "Someone cashed my tax refund check. Now what do I do?"
One of the ways scammers can get their hands on your tax refund money is to actually file a tax return in your name. It can take a while for the IRS to realize that more than one tax return has been completed and then alert you to the fraudulent activity.
Report Stolen Tax Refund Check
As soon as you realize that you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud, you need to make an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov. You'll also need to call the IRS at 800-908-4490 to let them know what has happened, although you may find that they will be the ones alerting you to the theft. It may also be advisable to alert the police in case the IRS asks you for official documentation of a crime having taken place.
You'll be expected to include as much information as you have about what happened, including timings, and to provide all of your personal tax information, including returns from the last few years. You will most likely also be asked to confirm your identity in order to prevent any further fraudulent behavior. This will include providing copies of your birth or marriages certificates, driver's license or passport.
Unfortunately, you will not be the first or last person to experience a tax refund theft. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, in 2013 the IRS paid out $5.8 billion in stolen tax refund checks. Having your tax return check stolen does happen to many people, and you'll be relieved to hear that in most cases, the IRS will issue a new refund check. However, it can take up to 180 days to be processed and received.
File a Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit
You should also file a Form 14039 identity theft affidavit. Once you have completed this form, which is available online, you will be provided with a personal and secure PIN number, which you'll be asked to provide every time you speak with the IRS to make sure you are who you say you are.
Protect Your Identity
After you have experienced identity theft, it makes sense to ensure your data is secure in order to prevent this from happening again. Contact the credit bureau agencies and make sure all the information they have on your file is correct. Order replacement cards if you believe your other financial records have been compromised.
- If you endorsed your refund check but another person cashed it without your consent, the IRS cannot issue you a replacement check, according to the IRS. For this reason, never endorse a refund check until you are at the bank and ready to cash it.
- If someone steals your refund check after you endorse it, contact local law enforcement officials to report the theft.
Fiona Tapp is a freelance writer and educator. Her work has been featured on The Washington Post, HuffPost, The Toronto Star, Brit+Co, and others. She writes about a variety of topics including Homes, Parenting, Education, and Travel. Fiona is a former teacher and masters degree holder.