Tax Identity Theft
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Tax Identity Theft Awareness
Tax identity theft typically happens when a scammer files a fraudulent tax
return using another individual’s social security number, receiving a refund
electronically. A consumer typically discovers they have been a victim of tax
identity theft when they go to file their own tax return, only to be informed by
the Internal Revenue Service that a return has already been filed in their
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;
however, the IRS doesn't 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 email@example.com.
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’ll get a notice or letter from the IRS saying
more than one return was filed for you.
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 got wages but didn’t report them. The IRS doesn’t
know those wages were reported by an employer you don’t know.
Dealing With Tax-Related Identity Theft
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
at IRS Identity Protection
Specialized Unit 1-800-908-4490. 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.