If copies of our tax returnswere stolen by my stepdaughter, what can we do to protect our identity?

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If copies of our tax returnswere stolen by my stepdaughter, what can we do to protect our identity?

My stepdaughter recently visited my husband and I over the summer and now we have noticed our most recent tax returns missing. This is concerning as it has our whole entire families social security numbers on our return including our young children. Her mother I believe told her to get a hold of it for child support purposes. Her mother has other children not related to my children that are in their late twenties and have long lengthy criminal records. So that is why I am worried. My question is can we file any type of charges against my stepdaughter or the stepmother for obtaining records that would possibly lead to identity theft or fraud. We are going to speak with the daughter and mother tonight but would like to know our rights. We would prefer they just sent our tax returns back and problem solved but if not we would like to try to call the daughter out and scare her into confessing. At the end of the day all we want is our identities and children’s information safe and secure. What would you advise?

Asked on August 19, 2011 Arizona

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I can surely understand your concern here.  I think that you are taking the right first step in approaching them about the matter.  But may I suggest something?  Although you have not stated how old the child is or what your relationship is with your step daughter it must be some what on a good level I think.  But around her mother she is going to be placed in a difficult position of "choosing" sides, which is what her Mother made her do in taking the return.  So you need to take yourself out of the mix for the meeting.  I would really suggest that your husband speak with her alone - not even with her Mother present - about the incident.  Explain to her his concern for the family as a whole - including her in the family - and what it could mean.  She does not need to feel like an outsider but rather ingratiated in to "problem" and be looked as a a problem solver not a thief.  In the meantime, if you have no proof you can not accuse her or her Mother and you can not file charges without proof.  In the meantime,  I would consider looking in to one of those companies that protects identities.  Good luck.


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