The only possible place more miserable than waiting in line at the DMV is waiting in line to get inside the IRS office.
I received a notification letter from the IRS back in December 2012 that prompted me to call the IRS immediately to ask why the letter was even sent to me. The IRS representative looked into it and asked me a series of standard questions to confirm that I was in fact Nhi Ho: my Social Security number, my birth date, my previous addresses, etc.
There were enough inconsistencies for her to tell me that I would have to fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit and mail it in to the IRS Headquarters in Atlanta. (You have to mail in forms when dealing with the IRS. They do not accept anything via emails.) It appears that my identity has been stolen. Apparently someone filed a fraudulent 2011 tax return under my name and Social Security number for $39,000 out of Nebraska. I’ve never been to Nebraska.
I was told I had to go to a local IRS location with two forms of ID to prove my identity to begin the process of getting out of this mess someone else got me into. I went to the IRS Headquarters in downtown Atlanta on a Thursday around 11 a.m. After paying $5 for parking, I walked up to a long line outside the Peachtree Summit Federal building and politely asked the gentleman at the end of the line what exactly the line was for. He said, “I’m here for my taxes and the IRS.” Great.
Thirty minutes later, I finally passed through the security and went up to the IRS office on the fourth floor only to wait in another line. When I finally got to the counter, the lady told me that if I wanted to see someone about my issue, it was a “well over three hour wait.” She offered me the addresses of the other two IRS locations in Atlanta but could not reassure me that the wait would be any less at either the Chamblee or Powers Ferry offices. She did advise me to “Just come back tomorrow morning when we specifically deal with identity theft issues only on Fridays.” The IRS office opens at 8:30 a.m. She told me to come back in the morning at 7:30 a.m. because that’s when people start lining up. Perfect.
After parking and paying another $5, I get to the Summit building by 8 a.m. after having grabbed my Starbucks that I figured I would need to get through the morning’s lines. To my surprise, there wasn’t a single person in line outside the building like the previous day. I went straight through security and there was not a single soul standing outside the IRS doors upstairs. What a relief! Waking up early paid off. But it was only trickery.
A lady saw me standing with my Starbucks which I had to immediately throw away because food and drinks were not allowed (another wasted $5) and told me to “Walk down the hallway and make a right and then register and sign in.” A man met me halfway and asked me what my issue was. Identity theft. “OK, you’re in the right place,” he said and handed me a ticket that read No. 97. I was then ushered into a waiting room where No. 54 through No. 96 were already seated and waiting.
Right before the IRS doors open at 8:30 a.m., another person came to call out a series of numbers so that we could all start lining up in order of our ticket number. I was then given another ticket. This one read No. 602.
The IRS agent, whom I eventually saw, was a very nice man and found out that in addition to the fraudulent 2011 tax that was filed, there was also a 2010 fraudulent tax filed under my name and Social Security number for $24,000 out of North Dakota. I’ve never been to North Dakota, either.
The agent helped me to confirm that I am indeed who I claim and submitted another Identity Theft Affidavit that would flag should someone else file a fraudulent 2012 tax return under my information. He then tells me that as far as the IRS is concerned, I’m good now. But then gives me a list of other agencies and credit bureaus that I also need to contact. He said, “You can start with the Social Security Administration. They’re on the 28th floor…”
For more information on what to do if you suspect that your identity has been stolen, visit irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection.
Nhi Ho is the copy editor for The Rockdale News and The Covington News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.