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Illustration of a fraudulent call - Tax Identity Theft

Don’t Be a Victim: A Guide to Tax Identity Theft Protection

In today’s digital world, convenience often comes at a cost. While online transactions and interactions streamline our lives, they also open doors for cybercriminals. One significant threat is tax-related identity theft, where someone steals your personal information, particularly your Social Security number (SSN), to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund in your name. This can wreak havoc on your finances and create a bureaucratic nightmare with the IRS.

This guide equips you with the knowledge to:

  • Recognize the signs of tax-related identity theft
  • Take immediate steps to protect yourself
  • Understand how the IRS safeguards taxpayers

Warning Signs: When to Suspect Tax Identity Theft

The IRS identifies several red flags that might indicate your identity has been compromised:

  • Unexpected IRS Correspondence: You receive a letter from the IRS about a suspicious tax return you didn’t file.
  • E-filing Rejection: You’re unable to electronically file your tax return due to a duplicate Social Security number used. In this case, file a paper return with Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Unrequested Tax Transcript: You receive a tax transcript you never requested.
  • IRS Account Activity: You receive notification of an online IRS account created or accessed in your name, even though you took no action.
  • Unexplained Tax Debt: The IRS informs you of additional taxes owed, a refund offset, or collection actions taken for a year you didn’t file.
  • Mystery Income: IRS records show wages or income from an employer you never worked for.
  • Surprise Employer ID: You’re assigned an Employer Identification Number (EIN) you didn’t request.

Taking Charge: Steps to Recover from Tax Identity Theft

If you suspect tax-related identity theft, act swiftly and decisively:

  1. Report to the IRS: File Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, to alert the IRS of potential fraud. This form can be submitted online, faxed, or mailed.
  2. Broader Identity Theft Protection: Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at, a central hub for identity theft reporting and recovery plans. Additionally, notify the Social Security Administration and the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to minimize further misuse of your personal information.
  3. Secure Your Information: Change passwords for all online accounts, especially financial institutions and email. Ensure your computer has robust antivirus software and consider a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports to prevent unauthorized account openings.
  4. Monitor Vigilantly: Regularly check your financial accounts and credit reports for suspicious activity. Early detection can nip further identity theft attempts in the bud.

The IRS: Your Partner in Protecting Your Tax Return

The IRS actively combats tax-related identity theft through a multi-pronged approach:

  • Prevention: Advanced data analytics and improved online authentication procedures help flag suspicious returns.
  • Detection: Over 3,000 dedicated employees and sophisticated return-processing filters work to identify and stop fraudulent refunds.
  • Victim Assistance: The Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) offers specialized support to victims.

The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN): A Shield Against Fraud

The IRS offers the IP PIN, a six-digit number that strengthens tax return security. It’s included on your tax return alongside your SSN, acting as an additional verification layer.

Obtaining an IP PIN

The process to get an IP PIN involves verifying your identity with the IRS. This can be done securely online through the IRS’s “Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)” tool. Stringent verification procedures reflect the importance of protecting taxpayer information. Alternative methods include submitting Form 15227 or scheduling an in-person appointment at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

Renewing Your IP PIN

The IP PIN is valid for one year and needs annual renewal. Each year, the IRS generates a new IP PIN, accessible through the online tool or by mail.

The Power of the IP PIN for Identity Theft Victims

For those who’ve been victims of tax-related identity theft, the IP PIN offers invaluable protection. It ensures that even if their personal information is compromised again, fraudulent returns cannot be processed under their SSN. This safeguards both their refund and contributes to the fight against tax-related identity theft.

Recovering from Identity Theft: You’re Not Alone

While identity theft can be a daunting experience, know that resources and support are available. By taking prompt action, leveraging available tools, and staying vigilant, you can overcome this challenge and protect your financial well-being.

Get Help Now

Our team of tax professionals has extensive experience assisting clients who have been victims of tax-related identity theft. We can guide you through the process of reporting the theft, recovering your funds, and securing your financial information. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation – we’re here to help you navigate this challenging situation and get back on track with your taxes.

JS Morlu LLC is a top-tier accounting firm based in Woodbridge, Virginia, with a team of highly experienced and qualified CPAs and business advisors. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive accounting, tax, and business advisory services to clients throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro Area and the surrounding regions. With over a decade of experience, we have cultivated a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and aspirations. We recognize that our clients seek more than just value-added accounting services; they seek a trusted partner who can guide them towards achieving their business goals and personal financial well-being.
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