A variety of resources regarding identity theft are available on the official IRS webpage on irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection. These resources provide a wide range of information, including how to reduce the risk of identity theft, common warning signs of identity theft and what the IRS is doing to combat identity theft.
Occasionally, identity theft occurs as a result of a data breach, which is when secure personal information is released via theft or negligence. If possible, a victim of a data breach should determine what information was compromised to determine the best course of action, such as contacting the credit card provider if credit card information is lost or stolen or contacting the IRS if a victim's social security number is used to file a fraudulent tax return.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers to contact one of the three major credit bureaus and request an initial fraud alert, which lasts 90 days and requires creditors who pull the consumer's credit report to take reasonable steps to verify the consumer's identity. A victim of identity theft can request an extended fraud alert, which lasts seven years and offers the same benefit of an initial fraud alert, as well as the ability to request two free credit reports within the first 12 months, and the credit bureau removes the consumer's name from pre-screened offer lists for five years. When a consumer places a fraud alert with one credit bureau, that bureau contacts the other two bureaus and notifies them to also place a fraud alert on the consumer's credit file.