Identity theft is a big problem.
Taxpayers can encounter identity theft involving their tax returns in several ways. One instance is where identity thieves try filing fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identifying information, which has been stolen. Innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
Generally, an identity thief will use your SSN to file a false return early in the year. You may be unaware you are a victim until you try to file your taxes and learn one already has been filed using your SSN.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by phone request personal or financial information. For phishing scams by phone, fax or mail call 1-800-366-4484 Toll free.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. Remember: Correspondence from the IRS never comes electronically. The agency always communicates via letters sent through the U.S. Postal Service. Report suspicious online or emailed Phishing scams to : firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you find yourself a victim of identity theft or find yourself at risk of having your identity stolen, you can alert the IRS about your situation with Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit.
Fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. Please write legibly and follow the directions on the back of the form that relate to your specific circumstances.
Link to access Form 14039 is https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf
For victims of identity theft who have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution to their case, they can contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free, at 800-908-4490 Extension 245.
If victims can’t get their issue resolved and are experiencing financial difficulties, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service toll-free at 877-777-4778.
Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:
- Equifax – www.equifax.com, 800-525-6285
- Experian – www.experian.com, 888-397-3742
- TransUnion – www.transunion.com, 800-680
Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261. Link to filing complaint with Federal Trade Commission is https://www.identitytheft.gov/
Report IRS impersonation scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scams Reporting. https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml
Certain tax-related identity theft victims will be placed into the Identity Protection PIN program and annually receive a new, six-digit IP PIN that must be entered on the tax return. The IP PIN adds an extra layer of identity protection. Some taxpayers will be given the option of getting an IP PIN, using the IRS.gov/getanippin tool.
Link to IRS Taxpayers guide for Identity Theft is https://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft
Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents with your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on it.
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Protect your financial information.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.