Recognizing and responding to tax-related identity theft some consumers get the first indication that they may be a
victim of identity theft during the time of tax return preparation and filing. The unauthorized use of one’s personally identifiable
information (PII), primarily the Social Security number (SSN), may come to light in a variety of ways.
Possible Indications of a Tax-related Issue:
» Receiving a W-2 or 1099 from a company you have not been employed by nor had a financial relationship with
» Receiving a notice from the IRS indicating there are unclaimed wages or income associated with your SSN
» Being notified there has already been a return submitted for that tax year when attempting to file your taxes
» When the IRS will not accept your claim of a dependent because someone has already claimed that dependent or
used the dependent’s SSN on a different return If you discover any of these indications, contact your identity theft program for direction in responding appropriately.
Some first steps for response include, but aren’t limited to:
» If you receive an unrecognized W-2 or 1099, call the company that issued the notice and ask them to verify
their information. The form may have been sent in error.
» If you attempt to file your taxes electronically and are notified that a submission using your Social Security number
was already received for that tax year, print and mail your return. Complete IRS Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit) and send it along with your tax return.
» If you receive any correspondence from the IRS, be sure it is legitimate before responding. The IRS will not request
your personal information from any tax payer via electronic communication. (See February 2013 Investigator Tips:
How to Respond to a Suspicious IRS-related Communication.)
» If you find that someone gained employment with use of your SSN and earnings have been reported to the Social
Security Administration, call or visit your local Social Security office to request removal of the earnings.
Consider these Investigator tips to reduce your risk:
» Beware of tax preparer fraud. Reduce your chance of becoming a victim of identity theft by choosing your tax
Read Points to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Tax Preparer from the IRS.
» Beware of phishing schemes. To avoid what has become an increasingly common method of tax-related identity theft,
taxpayers must remember one simple fact: the IRS never contacts taxpayers by email, text message, or phone to
request sensitive personal information.
» Be cautious when receiving your refund. When waiting for your tax refund, promptly remove mail from your mailbox after
delivery. The longer your mail sits in an unsecured mailbox, the greater your chances of it falling into the wrong hands. Consider having the IRS deposit your tax refund directly into your bank account, further minimizing the risk of theft.
» Keep a record of your tax returns only as long as necessary. After all, thieves can’t steal what you don’t have. Whenever
possible, purge and shred any records or paperwork once the need for them has expired. Suggested guidelines for individual recordkeeping are available through the IRS.
» Take precautions when filing tax returns:
» When e-filing, obtain a list of all authorized e-file providers registered with the IRS to be sure you are
using a credible service provider.
» Avoid sending data over a wireless network. If not properly secured, data can easily be intercepted by
an uninvited party.
» Never prepare or submit tax returns on public computers, which may contain malicious software, such as “keylogger”
spyware that is used to record every keystroke.
» When mailing your return via USPS, do not put your completed return in an unlocked mailbox for pickup.
The “pickup” might be made by a thief. Take the tax return directly to the post office.