Did you find out the hard way that you were the victim of identity theft after the thief used your info in one of Amazon's services?
You are not the only one,.
In February of last year I reported on a money laundering operation that was discovered in Amazon's print-on-demand service Createspace after an author learned that his identity was stolen and used to shield the perpetrators from detection.
That criminal enterprise was only uncovered when the author, Patrick Reames, got a 1099 tax form from Amazon detailing the almost $24,000 that Amazon had "paid" him for books sold via Createspace.
Another victim wasn't so lucky; they only found out that their identity had been stolen after the IRS contacted them about the $70,000 in income they hadn't declared when they filed their taxes.
My situation is almost identical to the one you wrote about. Someone used my personal information to open up a seller account with Amazon Createspace and sold almost $70,000 in my name. I received a letter (1099 and CP200) stating I owe $26000 in taxes that I didn’t report. It was NOT ME. Now I’m trying to prove this to the IRS.
This person reached out to me via the article I wrote last February because Amazon was no help at cleaning up the mess left behind.
While Amazon is more than willing to profit from criminal acts, their fraud detection dept won't even help identity theft victims in the smallest way (by filing a corrected 1099 form, for example).
I spent some time this week finding out how victims can fix the current predicament, and after I learned that Reames reported finding himself in a similar situation last year, I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you.
For starters, you need to do something about the bogus tax filings. The IRS recommends you take the following steps, as appropriate:
Edit: A reader pointed out that you should be wary of letters claiming to be from the IRS; they might be from a scammer. (Thanks, Allen!)
Respond immediately to any IRS letter; call the number provided, and explain to the agent that you are the victim of identity theft.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit (PDF). Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail it to the address specified in the instructions.
- Contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490, and get help from experts that specialize in resolving these types of cases.
Then, when you've started the ball rolling at the IRS, it's time to start cleaning up your credit. The FTC recommends these steps:
- File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
- Consider a credit freeze instead of a fraud alert for even greater protections (FTC).
- Contact your financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
It's not clear to me how the last three steps will help in this specific circumstance, but they cannot hurt. If nothing else, they will help you find out whether the identity thieves are using your identity for more than just setting up a money laundering operation at Amazon.