ID Theft Common Situations & Frequently Asked Questions
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as a Social Security Number (SSN), without permission to commit fraud or other crimes. There are two forms of tax identity theft: refund-related theft and employment/income-related theft. You should report both to the IRS.
Example 1: Your refund was stolen
You mailed your Form 1040 on April 15. A month later, you received a letter from the IRS stating that your return was already filed and the refund was already issued. You need to notify the IRS that you are a victim of refund theft.
Example 2: Your Social Security Number (SSN) was illegally used for employment
You received a CP2000 notice from the IRS stating that the income information the IRS has on file under your SSN doesn’t match the information you reported on your Form 1040. IRS records indicate that you received wages from an employer you never heard of. You need to notify the IRS that you are a victim of employment theft.
Example 3: Your confidential information was stolen
Your wallet was stolen. The wallet contained confidential information including your Social Security card and credit cards. You need to report this theft to the police and contact the IRS to set up monitoring on all accounts.
Example 4: Your return was rejected when e-filed
You attempted to electronically file your Form 1040 tax return and the return was rejected because someone had already filed a return using your SSN. Yet, you know that you have not filed a return. You need to notify the IRS that you are a victim of identity theft.
Example 5: Identity Theft Letter received from IRS
You receive a letter from IRS indicating they have received your current year tax return and they are in the process of conducting a thorough review of the information. You know that you have not filed this current year tax return. Your spouse, with whom you normally file a joint return, did not receive the same letter that you received. You need to notify the IRS that you are a victim of identity theft.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if the IRS has not contacted me in regards to a tax issue, but I think I may be a victim of identity theft?
Who should I contact to report identity theft?
Report the identity theft to the local police department and the FTC at: www.identitytheft.gov or (877) 438-4338.Call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) toll free at (800) 908-4490 to report identity theft. This unit is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. your local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific Time). The IPSU is responsible for monitoring your account but will not correct the issues associated with the identity theft. You should also contact your local Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) office immediately, in person or by phone at (800) 366-4484.
If you have been issued a notice, contact the IRS unit that sent the notice. That unit is responsible for solving the problem and adjusting your account. You must provide a completed Form 14039 and required documentation to the unit that sent the notice. If you do not provide the required documentation, the IRS will assume that you are not an identity theft victim.
How does the IRS track and monitor identity theft or data loss cases?
The IRS tracks identity theft or data loss incidents using identity theft tracking indicators on taxpayer accounts. These indicators alert others that a claim of identity theft has been reported and tracks the status of the taxpayer’s account from the first report or suspicion of identity theft to close. For example, the IRS filters returns to distinguish legitimate from fraudulent returns. In situations where IRS suspects identity theft, an identity theft indicator with the description, “IRS Initiated Suspicion of Identity Theft” will be placed on your account until identity theft is verified and confirmed at which time the identity theft indicator is updated to reflect the current status.
The IRS assigns an identity protection personal identification number (IP PIN) to use in filing the taxpayer’s return. This IP PIN will verify the correct taxpayer and speed up processing of the return. The taxpayer will receive a new IP PIN each year to be used when filing his or her return for as long as the identity theft indicator remains on the account.
How can I get an Identity Theft Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN)?
You are eligible for an IP PIN if you:
- received a Notice CP01A from the IRS containing the IP PIN;
- received a Notice CP01F from the IRS inviting you to apply for an IP PIN;
- filed last year’s federal tax return as a resident of Florida, Georgia, or the District of Columbia;
- reported identity theft to IRS and received a Notice CP01 indicating an identity theft indicator has been placed on your account; or
- were identified as a possible victim of identity theft by the IRS.
Taxpayers who lost or misplaced their IP PIN or didn’t receive a new one can logon to: www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-An-Identity-Protection-PIN If taxpayers are unable to create an account to get an IP PIN on IRS.gov or choose not to do so, they may contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at 1-800-908-4490, in order to receive a replacement IP PIN. The IPSU hours of operation are: Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).
What is the role of the Identity Theft Protection Specialized Unit?
In 2008, in response to increasing tax identity theft, the IRS established the Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) to assist taxpayers who are or suspect they may be victims of tax identity theft.
The IPSU receives calls from taxpayers who think they have been victims of identity theft. It then performs two functions, depending on the taxpayer’s situation:
- The identity theft has not created a tax problem. After the taxpayer provides substantiation documentation, the IPSU applies an identity theft indicator to his or her account.
- The identity theft has created tax problems. The IPSU refers these taxpayers via Form 14027-B, Identity Theft Case Referral, to the appropriate IRS unit for resolution. The form notifies the IRS unit that an IPSU case worker will be monitoring case activity and following up on a regular basis.