Reporting misuse of minor child's social security number


J

Jake29

A friend of mine is a single parent who has had sole custody of his minor
child throughout all of 2013. He actually gained full custody of his minor
child near the end of 2012 (in late November, 2012).

Last year, he went to a tax preparer who prepared and filed his 2012 tax
returns. He originally misunderstood how the custody and claiming of a
minor dependent worked, and he told the tax preparer that he had full
custody of his minor child. The tax preparer thought that he meant he had
full custody for all of 2012, so she prepared his 2012 tax return as if that
was correct. However, when she electronically filed the return to the IRS,
it was immediately kicked back to her. She said that the IRS "error
message" (or something like that) said that the social security number for
my friend's minor child was already in use by another filer who had received
a refund under that social security number. She said that the error message
was not the one used when someone else had already claimed a minor child as
a dependent, but that instead that social security number was used by
another tax filer on his/her return.

When that happened, my friend called me and since I was nearby, I went and
met him and his tax preparer and explained to the tax preparer that my
friend did not qualify to claim his minor child as a dependent for 2012.
After understanding the true facts, she corrected his return and re-filed it
electronically without the minor child being listed on the return as a
dependent.

Our guess is that someone else improperly/illegally used my friend's minor
child's social security number to file a federal tax return for 2012
(probably as an adult). My friend's child was 4 years old at the time and
is now 5 years old.

Today, my friend went in person to a local IRS office to report that his
child's social security number was, and possibly still is, being illegally
used by someone else to file federal tax returns. The IRS representative
took down no information and said the ONLY thing he can do is file his 2013
return when it is due, include his minor child's social security number on
his return as a minor dependent, and deal with it with the IRS when he
return gets rejected by the IRS.

That makes no sense to me. He wants the IRS to begin looking into this and
clearing it up before he files his 2013 tax return.

Long story, but here is my question:

Is there something else that my friend can do now to report this to the IRS
even though the IRS rep with whom he met refused to do anything and did not
even take down the information for a report? Is there an IRS form that he
can file now, or is there someone in the IRS that he can report this to in
writing to get them to investigate this now before he files his 2013 tax
return?

Thanks.
 
D

D.F. Manno

Jake29 said:
A friend of mine is a single parent who has had sole custody of his minor
child throughout all of 2013. He actually gained full custody of his minor
child near the end of 2012 (in late November, 2012).

Last year, he went to a tax preparer who prepared and filed his 2012 tax
returns. He originally misunderstood how the custody and claiming of a
minor dependent worked, and he told the tax preparer that he had full
custody of his minor child. The tax preparer thought that he meant he had
full custody for all of 2012, so she prepared his 2012 tax return as if that
was correct. However, when she electronically filed the return to the IRS,
it was immediately kicked back to her. She said that the IRS "error
message" (or something like that) said that the social security number for
my friend's minor child was already in use by another filer who had received
a refund under that social security number. She said that the error message
was not the one used when someone else had already claimed a minor child as
a dependent, but that instead that social security number was used by
another tax filer on his/her return.

When that happened, my friend called me and since I was nearby, I went and
met him and his tax preparer and explained to the tax preparer that my
friend did not qualify to claim his minor child as a dependent for 2012.
After understanding the true facts, she corrected his return and re-filed it
electronically without the minor child being listed on the return as a
dependent.

Our guess is that someone else improperly/illegally used my friend's minor
child's social security number to file a federal tax return for 2012
(probably as an adult). My friend's child was 4 years old at the time and
is now 5 years old.

Today, my friend went in person to a local IRS office to report that his
child's social security number was, and possibly still is, being illegally
used by someone else to file federal tax returns. The IRS representative
took down no information and said the ONLY thing he can do is file his 2013
return when it is due, include his minor child's social security number on
his return as a minor dependent, and deal with it with the IRS when he
return gets rejected by the IRS.

That makes no sense to me. He wants the IRS to begin looking into this and
clearing it up before he files his 2013 tax return.

Long story, but here is my question:

Is there something else that my friend can do now to report this to the IRS
even though the IRS rep with whom he met refused to do anything and did not
even take down the information for a report? Is there an IRS form that he
can file now, or is there someone in the IRS that he can report this to in
writing to get them to investigate this now before he files his 2013 tax
return?
The IRS has a "Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft" at:

<http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft>

The guide states: "For victims of identity theft who have previously
been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution, please
contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free, at
1-800-908-4490." That unit operates Monday ­ Friday, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).

You'll need to file Form 14039:

<http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf>
 
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A

Alan

A friend of mine is a single parent who has had sole custody of his minor
child throughout all of 2013. He actually gained full custody of his minor
child near the end of 2012 (in late November, 2012).

Last year, he went to a tax preparer who prepared and filed his 2012 tax
returns. He originally misunderstood how the custody and claiming of a
minor dependent worked, and he told the tax preparer that he had full
custody of his minor child. The tax preparer thought that he meant he had
full custody for all of 2012, so she prepared his 2012 tax return as if that
was correct. However, when she electronically filed the return to the IRS,
it was immediately kicked back to her. She said that the IRS "error
message" (or something like that) said that the social security number for
my friend's minor child was already in use by another filer who had received
a refund under that social security number. She said that the error message
was not the one used when someone else had already claimed a minor child as
a dependent, but that instead that social security number was used by
another tax filer on his/her return.

When that happened, my friend called me and since I was nearby, I went and
met him and his tax preparer and explained to the tax preparer that my
friend did not qualify to claim his minor child as a dependent for 2012.
After understanding the true facts, she corrected his return and re-filed it
electronically without the minor child being listed on the return as a
dependent.

Our guess is that someone else improperly/illegally used my friend's minor
child's social security number to file a federal tax return for 2012
(probably as an adult). My friend's child was 4 years old at the time and
is now 5 years old.

Today, my friend went in person to a local IRS office to report that his
child's social security number was, and possibly still is, being illegally
used by someone else to file federal tax returns. The IRS representative
took down no information and said the ONLY thing he can do is file his 2013
return when it is due, include his minor child's social security number on
his return as a minor dependent, and deal with it with the IRS when he
return gets rejected by the IRS.

That makes no sense to me. He wants the IRS to begin looking into this and
clearing it up before he files his 2013 tax return.

Long story, but here is my question:

Is there something else that my friend can do now to report this to the IRS
even though the IRS rep with whom he met refused to do anything and did not
even take down the information for a report? Is there an IRS form that he
can file now, or is there someone in the IRS that he can report this to in
writing to get them to investigate this now before he files his 2013 tax
return?

Thanks.
There is no evidence that the child's SS# has been stolen. Who knows
what the error message said. Who knows whether the preparer didn't
misinterpret the error message. Maybe the error message itself was wrong.

The taxpayer needs to file a return and claim his child as a dependent
and see what happens. It is highly likely that the custodial parent
claimed the child in 2012 and the error message related to that.
 
J

Jake29

The IRS has a "Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft" at:

<http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft>

The guide states: "For victims of identity theft who have previously
been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution,
please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit,
toll-free, at 1-800-908-4490." That unit operates Monday ­ Friday, 7
a.m. - 7 p.m. your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).

You'll need to file Form 14039:

<http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf>
Thanks. I'll pass the information on to my friend. My guess is that he
will try calling the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit and try
explaining the situation to them. Hopefully, that will help or get them to
at least do a check on his minor child's SSN to see if it may be being
miscued.

After I posted this question yesterday, I did find that form on the IRS
website (Form 14039). But, when I read the form and instructions carefully,
it doesn't appear to actually provide a way for my friend to report that his
minor child's SSN may have been stolen -- only a way to report that my
friend's own SSN was stolen (which is not the case). But, maybe he can file
the form anyway, and just write in his minor child's SSN and other
information and see what happens.
 
J

Jake29

There is no evidence that the child's SS# has been stolen. Who knows
what the error message said. Who knows whether the preparer didn't
misinterpret the error message. Maybe the error message itself was
wrong.
The taxpayer needs to file a return and claim his child as a dependent
and see what happens. It is highly likely that the custodial parent
claimed the child in 2012 and the error message related to that.
Thanks. Yes, it's possible that the tax preparer misinterpreted the error
message etc. However, I did speak with her personally when it happened
because I thought the same thing -- that the custodial parent must have
already claimed the minor child as her dependent. But, we went over it
several times, and she was really clear that the error message that she
received was not that. I think she said that the error message stated that
another taxpayer had already filed a tax return using that number. And, she
explained what the error message would have been if the minor child had
already been claimed by someone else as a dependent. But, I get what you
are saying, and maybe you are right about what actually happened here.

Still, it seems to me that when my friend went to the IRS in person to
report the problem, all they would have needed to do was ask him to wait, go
in a back room and look up his tax return file and also do a check on his
minor child's SSN, and then come back out and state whether or not there was
any conflict that they can see in the system regarding his minor child's
SSN. I know they wouldn't be able to reveal information to him about who
the other party was if his minor child's SSN had been stolen or misused.
However, to do no checking at all when a taxpayer personally reports a
possible misuse or theft of his minor child's SSN seems inappropriate to me,
but maybe that's just the way it is.

Another responder here mentioned Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, and I
also found that form online after posting the original question. My reading
of the form and instructions leaves me to think that it is not applicable
for a parent to use this form to report possible "identity theft" of a minor
child's SSN unless it interfered with the parent's filing of a tax return.
Since my friend ended up not filing a tax return that included his minor
child as a dependent, he can't claim that reason for filing Form 14039.
There doesn't appear to be any option on the form for simply reporting that
a minor child's SSN may have been stolen or misused, or an option for that
anywhere else on the IRS website.

I did read in the "Instructions for Submitting this Form" that said the same
as what you wrote -- that he could try to electronically file his 2013
return with his minor child listed as a dependent, and if he gets an error
message back, then file a paper return and attach a copy of Form 14039 to
his return.

One other thing that we are doing is contacting all 3 credit reporting
agencies to find out if anyone has used his minor child's SSN to create a
credit file or obtain credit etc. One company (TransUnion) has a mechanism
for doing that online, which we did yesterday. The other two (Experian and
Equifax) require submission by mail, which we are doing today.
 
D

D. Stussy

"Jake29" wrote in message A friend of mine is a single parent who has had sole custody of his minor
child throughout all of 2013. He actually gained full custody of his minor
child near the end of 2012 (in late November, 2012).

Last year, he went to a tax preparer who prepared and filed his 2012 tax
returns. He originally misunderstood how the custody and claiming of a
minor dependent worked, and he told the tax preparer that he had full
custody of his minor child. The tax preparer thought that he meant he had
full custody for all of 2012, so she prepared his 2012 tax return as if that
was correct. However, when she electronically filed the return to the IRS,
it was immediately kicked back to her. She said that the IRS "error
message" (or something like that) said that the social security number for
my friend's minor child was already in use by another filer who had received
a refund under that social security number. She said that the error message
was not the one used when someone else had already claimed a minor child as
a dependent, but that instead that social security number was used by
another tax filer on his/her return.

When that happened, my friend called me and since I was nearby, I went and
met him and his tax preparer and explained to the tax preparer that my
friend did not qualify to claim his minor child as a dependent for 2012.
After understanding the true facts, she corrected his return and re-filed it
electronically without the minor child being listed on the return as a
dependent.

Our guess is that someone else improperly/illegally used my friend's minor
child's social security number to file a federal tax return for 2012
(probably as an adult). My friend's child was 4 years old at the time and
is now 5 years old.

Today, my friend went in person to a local IRS office to report that his
child's social security number was, and possibly still is, being illegally
used by someone else to file federal tax returns. The IRS representative
took down no information and said the ONLY thing he can do is file his 2013
return when it is due, include his minor child's social security number on
his return as a minor dependent, and deal with it with the IRS when he
return gets rejected by the IRS.

That makes no sense to me. He wants the IRS to begin looking into this and
clearing it up before he files his 2013 tax return.

Long story, but here is my question:

Is there something else that my friend can do now to report this to the IRS
even though the IRS rep with whom he met refused to do anything and did not
even take down the information for a report? Is there an IRS form that he
can file now, or is there someone in the IRS that he can report this to in
writing to get them to investigate this now before he files his 2013 tax
return?

======================
The primary way to deal with this after an e-file rejection is to file on
paper claiming the exemption for the child and wait for the AUDIT of the
issue.

Form 14039 might not apply -- as its possible that the other parent* may
have claimed the child, and that would NOT be identity theft.
* - Or whomever had custody prior to November 2012.

If it is known that the other person has no right to claim the child and is
NOT a relative (i.e. a party who could reasonably believe that he/she may
have such a right), consider filing a Form 3949A with the IRS.
 
J

Jake29

D. Stussy said:
"Jake29" wrote in message A friend of mine is a single parent who has had sole custody of his
minor child throughout all of 2013. . . . ,
. . . ,
Today, my friend went in person to a local IRS office to report that
his child's social security number was, and possibly still is, being
illegally used by someone else to file federal tax returns. The IRS
representative took down no information and said the ONLY thing he
can do is file his 2013 return when it is due, include his minor
child's social security number on his return as a minor dependent,
and deal with it with the IRS when he return gets rejected by the IRS.
. . . ,
Is there something else that my friend can do now to report this to
the IRS even though the IRS rep with whom he met refused to do
anything and did not even take down the information for a report?
That may turn out to be his only option with the IRS, but it sure seems
stupid to me that when my friend went in person to the IRS that they
couldn't just check his child's SSN in the system now and see if there is a
problem. After all, if they looked at the documentation that he brought
with him, they would have seen that the child is 5 years old. If they saw a
tax return in their system for an adult who was using that SSN, they would
know right away that there is a problem. If all they saw is that someone
else had claimed the child as a dependent for 2012, they could have just
told my friend that was the problem.
Form 14039 might not apply -- as its possible that the other parent*
may have claimed the child, and that would NOT be identity theft.
* - Or whomever had custody prior to November 2012.
According to the tax preparer, the error message was not one that indicated
that someone else had already claimed the child as a dependent. According
to her, the error message was that another person had filed a tax return
suing that SSN as his/her tax ID. Unfortunately, neither of us actually saw
or got a copy of the error message from the tax preparer, so I can't post
what that was.
If it is known that the other person has no right to claim the child
and is NOT a relative (i.e. a party who could reasonably believe that
he/she may have such a right), consider filing a Form 3949A with the
IRS.
I did look up Form 3949A and the instructions and found them here:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3949a.pdf ,
and here:
http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/How-Do-You-Report-Suspected-Tax-Fraud-Activity? .

But, my friend probably couldn't file that form because he would not be
reporting any specific individual or business. All that he could provide is
his minor child's SSN and state that he thinks someone else is using that
SSN illegally.

If his efforts to contact the IRS again do not work out, he may have to wait
until he hears back from the credit bureaus regarding his minor child's SSN
to see if anyone else has set up a credit file with that SSN. If that did
happen, I guess he could go back in person to the IRS with that information
and report an identity theft.

Thanks for your suggestions.
 
M

Mark Bole

On 2013/12/18 14:44, Jake29 wrote:
[...]
it was immediately kicked back to her. She said that the IRS "error
message" (or something like that) said that the social security number for
my friend's minor child was already in use by another filer who had received
a refund under that social security number.
I'm pretty sure that such error messages never indicate whether a refund
or balance due was involved.
 
B

Bill Brown

Thanks. Yes, it's possible that the tax preparer misinterpreted the error
message etc. However, I did speak with her personally when it happened
because I thought the same thing -- that the custodial parent must have
already claimed the minor child as her dependent. But, we went over it
several times, and she was really clear that the error message that she
received was not that.
Have you contacted the other parent and asked that person whether this
child was claimed as a dependent on that other parent's 2012 return?
 
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J

Jake29

Mark said:
On 2013/12/18 14:44, Jake29 wrote:
[...]
it was immediately kicked back to her. She said that the IRS "error
message" (or something like that) said that the social security
number for my friend's minor child was already in use by another
filer who had received a refund under that social security number.
I'm pretty sure that such error messages never indicate whether a
refund or balance due was involved.
Thanks. I probably did not get that part of what the tax preparer said
correct. The more that I think about it, I think the point that she was
trying to make was that the error message indicated that someone filed an
actual return using the child's SSN as the as the number for the primary
taxpayer. And, she was talking about how people do that to be able to file
a return and get a refund using a stolen minor child's SSN.

Once my friend does get the final story on this, and what actually happened
here (including results from his contact with the credit reporting
agencies), I'll post back here what the final story turns out to be.
 
J

Jake29

Have you contacted the other parent and asked that person whether this
child was claimed as a dependent on that other parent's 2012 return?
Unfortunately, the other parent, who DID have legal custody of the minor
child in 2012, has a lot of drug issues and other serious issues going on in
her life. Getting a straight answer or the truth from her is a problem.
She told my friend that she doesn't know because her drug-involved boyfriend
did her taxes for her. There's even more to it than that, but the other
issues are too complicated to try to describe here. If she had claimed the
minor child as her dependent for 2012, that would be fine with my friend.

But, my friend's tax preparer was adamant about the fact that the error
message that she got back when she first tried to electronically file my
friend's 2012 taxes was definitely not related to someone else having
claimed my friend's minor child as a dependent. That's why we think there
is a problem. In doing Internet searches, I have read a lot about druggies
and others selling minor children's SSN's for drug money so the buyer could
use the SSN to give to an employer if the person didn't have one of his/her
own.

In the end, there may be a simple answer to this, or there may be a more
sinister problem going on regarding the minor child's SSN. When the actual
answer is finally known, I'll post it here.
 
M

Mark Bole

Mark said:
On 2013/12/18 14:44, Jake29 wrote:
[...]
it was immediately kicked back to her. She said that the IRS "error
message" (or something like that) said that the social security
number for my friend's minor child was already in use by another
filer who had received a refund under that social security number.
I'm pretty sure that such error messages never indicate whether a
refund or balance due was involved.
Thanks. I probably did not get that part of what the tax preparer said
correct. The more that I think about it, I think the point that she was
trying to make was that the error message indicated that someone filed an
actual return using the child's SSN as the as the number for the primary
taxpayer. And, she was talking about how people do that to be able to file
a return and get a refund using a stolen minor child's SSN.

Once my friend does get the final story on this, and what actually happened
here (including results from his contact with the credit reporting
agencies), I'll post back here what the final story turns out to be.
The efile reject codes are available at the IRS web site. The previous
tax preparer may well have not correctly interpreted the code. I've
also seen where once there is one reject code, subsequent codes can
sometimes be meaningless, they will clear up automatically once the real
initial error is cleaned up.

Check this link or search "Common Error Reject Codes (ERCs)" at the IRS
web site, I'm guessing either code 507 or 510 is the one that applies.

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Common-Error-Reject-Codes-(ERCs)-for-Individual-Tax-Returns-&-Suggested-Solutions
 
J

Jake29

Mark said:
Mark said:
On 2013/12/18 14:44, Jake29 wrote:
[...]
it was immediately kicked back to her. She said that the IRS
"error message" (or something like that) said that the social
security number for my friend's minor child was already in use by
another filer who had received a refund under that social security
number.
I'm pretty sure that such error messages never indicate whether a
refund or balance due was involved.
Thanks. I probably did not get that part of what the tax preparer
said correct. The more that I think about it, I think the point
that she was trying to make was that the error message indicated
that someone filed an actual return using the child's SSN as the as
the number for the primary taxpayer. And, she was talking about how
people do that to be able to file a return and get a refund using a
stolen minor child's SSN.
The efile reject codes are available at the IRS web site. The
previous tax preparer may well have not correctly interpreted the
code. I've also seen where once there is one reject code, subsequent
codes can sometimes be meaningless, they will clear up automatically
once the real initial error is cleaned up.

Check this link or search "Common Error Reject Codes (ERCs)" at the
IRS web site, I'm guessing either code 507 or 510 is the one that
applies.
http://www.irs.gov/uac/Common-Error-Reject-Codes-(ERCs)-for-Individual-Tax-Returns-&-Suggested-Solutions
Thanks Mark, and thanks again to all others who replied and offered help and
suggestions. I just checked out that link and I saved it for later use.

The overall consensus seems to be that the likely problem is that the minor
child was already claimed as a dependent on another return (most likely the
child's mother in this case) and/or that the tax preparer misinterpreted the
error code that was received on the 2012 return.

It is beginning to look more like the consensus opinion on this is going to
turn out to be correct. My friend got an email reply back from TransUnion
yesterday stating that they do not maintain credit files for minors and
(more importantly) that their investigation showed that they have no other
credit files in their system with the identifying information that was
submitted for his minor child -- which included the child's SSN. Of the big
3 credit reporting agencies, TransUnion is the only one that allows an
initial inquiry to be submitted online. That is why he received quick
feedback from them. The other two credit reporting agencies require
submission of all of the documentation by mail, so it will take longer to
get a reply back from them.

The next step is for my friend to go back to his tax preparer and see if she
can provide the exact error code (by number) that she received back from the
IRS when she originally tried to electronically file his 2012 tax return.
If she has that, I'll post it here as a follow-up. And, I'll post any other
follow-up information that is received as it comes in.

Also, my friend will be sure to tell the child's mother now that he will be
claiming the child as his dependent on his 2013 tax return since he has had
full custody and provided 100% of the support of his minor child for all of
2013. So, he can let her know not to claim the child as her dependent for
2013 to prevent her return (and his) from having a problem.
 
J

Jake29

Jake29 wrote:

Here's the follow-up: NOTE: The original question was about finding out if
someone had misused the social security number of the 5 y.o. son of a friend
of mine. It came up when he tried to file his 2012 tax returns using a tax
preparer -- who said that the return was rejected due to someone else having
already used that child's number to get a refund in that child's name.

I later wrote,
Thanks Mark, and thanks again to all others who replied and offered
help and suggestions. . . . ,

The overall consensus seems to be that the likely problem is that the
minor child was already claimed as a dependent on another return
(most likely the child's mother in this case) and/or that the tax
preparer misinterpreted the error code that was received on the 2012
return.
It is beginning to look more like the consensus opinion on this is
going to turn out to be correct. My friend got an email reply back
from ....(all 3 credit reporting agencies) ... saying that no one was
using the child's social security number etc.
The next step is for my friend to go back to his tax preparer and see
if she can provide the exact error code (by number) that she received
back from the IRS when she originally tried to electronically file
his 2012 tax return. If she has that, I'll post it here as a
follow-up. And, I'll post any other follow-up information that is
received as it comes in.
Bottom line: My friend's 2013 tax returns went through with no problem with
his 5 y.o. child listed as his dependent. The tax preparer said she could
not locate the error code from the prior year 2012 return. She probably
misinterpreted what the 2012 error code meant. Apparently, no one misused
the child's social security number as was originally suspected.
 
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