Identity Theft for Taxpayers
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Protect documents that have personal information
Keep your tax records and Social Security card in a safe place. When you decide to get rid of your tax records, shred them. If you don’t have a shredder, look for a local shred day.
Protect your information from scammers online and on your phone
Multi-factor authentication offers extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account. The additional credentials you need to log in to your account fall into two categories: something you have — like a passcode you get via text message or an authentication app, or something you are — like a scan of your fingerprint, your retina, or your face. Multi-factor authentication makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do get your username and password.
Don’t give your personal information to someone who calls, emails, or texts and says they’re with the IRS. It could be a scammer impersonating the IRS to steal your information or money. If you need to contact the IRS, call them at 1-800-829-1040.
What To Do If Someone Steals Your Tax Refund
If someone uses your Social Security number to file for a tax refund before you do, you’ll usually find out when you file your return with the IRS.
If you file by mail, the IRS will mail you a letter explaining that they received more than one return in your name. Follow the instructions in the letter.
If you try to submit your tax return online or through a tax preparer, the IRS will reject your tax return as a duplicate filing. If this happens, go to IdentityTheft.gov and report it. IdentityTheft.gov will create your
- FTC Identity Theft Report
- IRS Identity Theft Affidavit
- Personal recovery plan
If you choose, IdentityTheft.gov will submit the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit to the IRS online so that the IRS can begin investigating your case. You can also get the Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) from irs.gov and submit it by mail.
What To Do If Someone Uses Your Social Security Number for Work
If someone uses your Social Security number for work, the employer may report that person’s income to the IRS using your Social Security number. When you file your tax return, you wouldn’t have included those earnings because they weren’t yours. But the IRS doesn’t know that. Their records will show you failed to report all your income.
The IRS will mail you a letter explaining you had earnings that you didn’t report. If you get a letter like this from the IRS, follow the instructions in the letter.
If you haven’t gotten a letter from the IRS but you think someone is using your Social Security number for work, review your Social Security work history. Create an account at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. If you find errors, contact your local Social Security Administration office.
Other Steps to Take
Whether someone used your Social Security number to steal your tax refund or for work, go to IdentityTheft.gov/Steps to learn what other steps to take to limit the damage that identity theft can cause.
Identity Theft for Taxpayers
If you did not receive an IRS notice but believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 right away so we can take steps to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN. Also, fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.
Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service in 2014. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS. This year, the IRS continues to take new steps and strong actions to protect taxpayers and help victims of identity theft and refund fraud.
Stopping refund fraud related to identity theft is a top priority for the tax agency. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. The IRS has more than 3,000 employees working on identity theft cases. We have trained more than 35,000 employees who work with taxpayers to recognize and provide assistance when identity theft occurs.
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.
Here are some tips to protect you from becoming a victim, and steps to take if you think someone may have filed a tax return using your name:
Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
- 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 and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing 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.
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 (Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. local time; Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific time).
Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:
- More than one tax return for you was filed
- You have a balance due; refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return
- IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned
- Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.
If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.
If you did not receive an IRS notice but believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 right away so we can take steps to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN.
Also, 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.
In addition, we recommend you take additional steps with agencies outside the IRS:
- 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.
- File a report with the local police.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
The IRS is working to speed up and further streamline identity theft case resolution to help innocent taxpayers.
These are extremely complex cases to resolve, frequently touching on multiple issues and multiple tax years. Cases of resolving identity can be complicated by the thieves themselves contacting the IRS. Due to the complexity of the situation, this is a time-consuming process. Taxpayers are likely to see their refunds delayed for an extended period of time while we take the necessary actions to resolve the matter. A typical case can take about 180 days to resolve, and the IRS is working to reduce that time period.
If you have an open identity theft case that is being worked by the IRS, you need to continue to file your tax returns during this period.