Tax identity theft is still on the rise. Last year, the IRS identified 14,000 fraudulent tax returns with $900 million claimed in fraudulent refunds, according to an audit report from the U.S. Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration. The IRS uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to make sure your filing is accurate and complete, and that you get any refund you are due. Identity theft can affect how your tax return is processed. An unexpected notice or letter from the IRS could alert you that someone else is using your SSN. The IRS does not start contact with a taxpayer by sending an email, text or social media message that asks for personal or financial information. If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to .
If someone uses your SSN to file for a tax refund before you do, the IRS might think you already filed and got your refund. When you file your return later, IRS records will show the first filing and refund, and you will get a notice or letter from the IRS saying more than one return was filed for you.
- Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS.
An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers that helps prevent the misuse of your Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns. You cannot use the IP PIN as your e-file signature PIN.
- Check your mail and credit union account statements every month.
If you discover an account you did not open, balance discrepancy, or a purchase you did not make, contact the financial institution or creditor immediately to report the activity.
- Monitor your credit reports on a regular basis.
The federal government has set up www.annualcreditreport.com for all Americans to receive a free, no-obligation credit report from the three major credit bureaus every twelve months. Read the reports carefully to see if the information is correct. Contact the credit reporting company if there are any mistakes or signs of fraud.
If you think someone used your SSN for a tax refund or a job — or the IRS sends you a notice or letter indicating a problem — contact the IRS immediately. Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.