What the--?
March 29, 2011 9:59 AM   Subscribe

ID theft? I received a W2 from a company I've never heard of.

I do some very occasional contract work but not near that much last year. Those are all reported as 1099s anyway. This W2 has my correct social security number and former address. I changed jobs and moved out of state last year but already received W2's from both employers.

The company has not yet responded to my email or voice mail. Can I report the error to the IRS somehow? I haven't seen any suspicious activity on my bank or CC accounts.

Not sure what I should do next. Any advice?
posted by scottatdrake to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does one of your contractors work as a "DBA"? What I mean is: I used to do occasional work for a theater company with one name (let's call them "The Happy Time Fun Show Review") but they were part of a larger entity, and it was the larger entity's name that was on all the business documentation ("Fun Productions, Inc."). Maybe one of your contractors has a parent company.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:09 AM on March 29, 2011

Do the numbers match any of your records for freelance ? (this is going along EC's comment - DBA == doing business as) ..

You say you always get 1099s, but are all your jobs accounted for ? (if you freelance, I assume you keep meticulous records, especially if you do mostly 1099 work, where every deduction matters)

As for the IRS, they do say after Feb 15, call them for wrong W2s .. You just need to be certain it is wrong before calling ..
posted by k5.user at 10:15 AM on March 29, 2011

Response by poster: I wondered about the DBA thing, too. It's just not the case here, though. I only had three of them last year and all their accounted for. Additionally, the amount on the mystery W2 is more than twice the amount of all my contracts combined.

I'm wondering if somebody used my SSN... but it's weird that my address is correct. The company is in NYC and I lived in Iowa.

(Thanks for the IRS link.)
posted by scottatdrake at 10:21 AM on March 29, 2011

Wait for them to respond. How long has it been since you tried to contact them? Any luck googling the company name and/or address? Maybe you'll recognize another business name at the same address? Have you ever lived in NYC or worked for an NYC based company? Or do you have some other connection there? A relative living there perhaps? It's far more likely to be someone who has their finances handled under another name as described above, hideous incompetence, or an honest mistake than to be ID theft. I'd give the company a chance to explain first before calling the IRS on them.

If need be, you can file for an extension on your taxes so you don't need to even work this all out in the next couple weeks. Might not be a bad idea, as it looks like it could take a little while to work through the IRS's wrong W2 process.

Just to be safe, I would try pulling your credit reports, which you should do from the one and only official source: annualcreditreport.com (which seems to be down at the moment, naturally) just to see if there's anything you don't recognize. Getting a free copy of your Lexis Nexis (formerally ChoicePoint) employment history report isn't a bad idea either given the situation, though it will only contain anything if an employer has requested a background check on your name/SSN.
posted by zachlipton at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2011

Do you play any gambling-type games online? There's an msn-based gaming site where I sometimes play bejeweled et al competitively for small amounts of money, and they send forms every year for my $5 in winnings.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:50 AM on March 29, 2011

Gambling winnings would probably be reported on a W-2G, no? Is the form in question a straight W-2 or something else?

It might also help to know whether the other data on the W-2 make sense? Are the number of allowances the same as what you would normally take? Is your name correct and is it of the same form you would use when filling out a W-4? Are the state taxes for NY or Iowa or are there none at all? Are there any benefits listed that don't match your situation?
posted by zachlipton at 11:13 AM on March 29, 2011

My understanding is that there is a market for identification information to allow undocumented workers to provide "valid" information to their employers. This is often not the type of malicious identity theft we are used to hearing about (charge up a bunch of credit cards in someone's name and walk away), but the fact that your information may be "out there" is still something to be concerned about.
posted by i love cheese at 4:10 PM on March 29, 2011

Don't worry about it, but do figure out how to get it taken care of, because it could be an audit flag for the IRS.

I doubt it is a scam, but when you contact the company, don't volunteer any information they don't already have. Just in case it is a complicated way to extract info from you.
posted by gjc at 5:00 PM on March 29, 2011

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