Recovering from tax-related identity theft can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. But the IRS can help remove fraudulent, inaccurate information from your federal tax records and ensure that your legitimate return is processed correctly. The key is to address the issue as soon as you realize your identity has been compromised.
Tax-related identity theft can occur in many ways. A thief may steal someone’s Social Security number (SSN), file a tax return and fraudulently claim a refund. Many thefts occur early in the filing season, so the rightful holders of the SSNs aren’t aware of the crime until they file their own, legitimate returns.
In another scheme, an identity thief uses a person’s SSN to apply for a job. After the perpetrator starts work, the employer will likely report the employee’s wages to the IRS using the stolen SSN. The rightful owner of the SSN won’t know about this until he or she receives a notice from the IRS — for neglecting to report wages.
Paths to recovery
If you receive an IRS notice stating that more than one return was filed under your SSN, call the number provided. You’ll likely need to complete Form 14039, “Identity Theft Affidavit.” This form is for victims of identity theft, as well as those whose identity has been compromised in a way that could impact future tax returns (for example, whose wallet has been stolen).
If you don’t receive a notice but believe you’ve been victimized or are at risk for identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
Also, depending on where you live, you may receive a “CP01F Notice.” It allows some identity theft victims to obtain unique six-digit numbers, called “IP PINs,” that help prevent misuse of their SSNs on federal tax returns and show that the taxpayers are the rightful filers.
Above all, continue to pay your taxes and file your returns • even if you must do so on paper. And remember that the IRS will never ask for personal or financial information via electronic communication, such as email, text messages or social media.
Even if you take care to protect your SSN and other personal information, it’s possible that your tax identity will be stolen. If this happens, contact us for information about regaining control of it.