Tax-related identity theft occurs when a thief uses someone’s stolen Social
Security number to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. The victim
may be unaware that this has happened until they e-file their return. Even
before the victim files their return, the IRS may send the taxpayer a letter
saying the agency identified a suspicious return using the stolen SSN.
Here are some things people should know about identity theft, including
warning signs and steps to take after identity theft occurs.
Warning signs that a
Taxpayers should be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if they are
contacted by the IRS or their tax preparer about:
- More than one tax return being filed using the taxpayer’s SSN.
- Additional tax owed.
- A refund offset.
- Collection actions taken against the taxpayer for a year when they did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicating they received wages or other income from an employer for whom the taxpayer did not work.
Taxpayers who suspect they are a victim of ID theft should continue to pay
their taxes and file their tax return, even if they must do so on paper.
Steps to take if
someone becomes a victim
The taxpayer should:
- File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on their credit records.
- Contact their financial institutions to close any financial or credit accounts opened without permission or that were tampered with by identity thieves.
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice and call the number provided in the letter.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. They can use a fillable form on IRS.gov, print it, then attach the form to their tax return and mail according to instructions.
Taxpayers who previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution can
contact the agency for specialized assistance at 1-800-908-4490.
Taxpayers should remember that 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 through social