Identity Theft Prevention and Victim Assistance
Identity theft occurs when someone uses personal information such as a person’s name, Social Security number and/or other identifying information, without that person’s permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft is a serious crime, and people whose identities were stolen can spend months or years (as well as hard-earned money) repairing the mess thieves made of their names and credit records. Identity theft can result in lost job opportunities; denial of loans for things like housing, automobiles and education; and perhaps even misdirected criminal charges.
How to minimize your chances of becoming a victim
- Don't carry your Social Security card or any document featuring your Social Security number.
- Only provide your Social Security number when absolutely necessary, and question why it is needed and how it will be used before providing it.
- Protect your financial information; shred or burn bank and credit card statements rather than simply throwing them in the trash or recycling.
- Check your credit report at least every 12 months. You can do so for free once a year by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and regularly change passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t provide personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you initiated the contact or you know who is asking.
NOTE: The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or other electronic means to request personal or financial information. Do not open attachments or click on any links within an unsolicited email claiming to be from the Department of Revenue or IRS.
What to do if you are a victim of identity theft
- Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or by calling 1-877-438-4338.
- File a report with the local police.
- Report the incident to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-441-2555.
- File an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) with the Internal Revenue Service.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:
Equifax: www.equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285
Experian: www.experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: www.transunion.com, 1-800-680-7289
How to determine if your tax records have been affected
Be alert to possible identity theft if the IRS or Department of Revenue note any of the following:
- More than one tax return was filed under your name or Social Security number.
- Your identity must be verified, when you haven’t filed a return yet.
- You have a balance due, refund offset or collection actions have been initiated against you for a year in which you did not file a tax return.
- You received wages from an employer unknown to you.
If you receive a notice from the department concerning identity validation, please respond immediately.
If suspect a notice or call concerning your tax records is a scam, call the department (717-787-8201) or IRS (1-800-829-1040) to validate the contact.
If you believe your state tax records may be at risk due to a lost/stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity, unexpected credit report score, etc., contact the department at 717-787-8201. You may be asked to provide a copy of a police report, submit a copy of the federal Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) or provide other information.
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