The IRS uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to make sure your tax filing is accurate and complete, and that you get any refund you are due. Identity theft can affect how your tax return is processed.
What to be wary of?
The IRS does NOT contact a taxpayer by sending an email, text or through social media 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 phishing. These emails can look very official and be very scary but don’t fall for these scams.
How do you know if your SSN has been stolen?
When an unexpected notice or letter from the IRS arrives, this can alert you that someone else is using your SSN.
If someone uses your SSN to get a job, the employer may report that person’s income to the IRS using your SSN. When you file your tax return, you won’t include those earnings. IRS records will show you failed to report all your income. The agency will send you a notice or letter saying you received wages but didn’t report them. The IRS doesn’t know those wages were reported by an employer you didn’t work for.
If someone uses your SSN to file for your tax refund before you file, they may get your refund. When you file your return later, IRS records will show the first filing and refund, and you’ll get a notice or letter from the IRS saying more than one return was filed for you.
If you think someone used your SSN to get a job or tax refund — or the IRS sends you a notice or letter indicating a problem — contact the IRS immediately. The IRS has an Identity Protection Specialized Unit and they can be reached at 800-908-4490. 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. You will need to fill out an IRS ID Theft Affidavit Form 14039 and send it along with proof of your identity, such as a copy of your Social Security card, driver’s license or passport to the IRS.
After you contact the IRS, it’s important to limit the potential damage from identity theft:
1. Put a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
2. Order your credit reports to make sure your stolen identity is not being used for other purposes like applying for a credit card in your name.
3. Create an Identity Theft Report by filing an identity theft complaint with the FTC and filing a police report.