Today being the deadline for filing your federal income tax return is also a good time to remind you that identity theft and income tax identity theft can happen to anyone. It can even happen to the Attorney General of the United States. Recently convicted of this crime were Yafait Tadesse and Eyaso Abebe, a man whose Facebook page describes him as an importer/exporter for Vandelay Industries, which if it sounds familiar is because it was a fictional company created by the George Costanza character in the old Seinfeld television show. Obtaining the Social Security number of a real person and then filing a phony income tax return on behalf of that person before the potential victim files his or her legitimate federal income tax return is the key to income tax identity theft. In this case Tadesse and Abebe purchased Social Security numbers including that of Attorney General Holder on black market websites and used the information to file phony returns and collect refunds.
The two keys to protecting yourself from income tax identity theft are to protect the privacy of your Social Security number as best you can and file your federal income tax return as early as you can. Even if an identity thief has managed to get your Social Security number, if you file your income tax return before he or she can file a phony return using your Social Security number, you will suffer no harm. If an identity thief does manage to file a return using your Social Security number before you do, it can take many months before you can straighten the matter out and get your true refund.