Identity Theft IRS

Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service this year. Identity theft is among the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS.

This year, the IRS continues to take new steps and strong actions to protect taxpayers and help victims of identity theft and refund fraud.

Stopping refund fraud related to identity theft is a top priority to the tax agency. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. The IRS has more than 3,000 employees who work on identity theft cases — more than twice the level of a year ago. The agency trained more than 35,000 employees who work with taxpayers to recognize and provide assistance when identity theft occurs.

Taxpayers can encounter identity theft that involves their tax returns in several ways. One instance is where identity thieves try to file fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identifying information, which has been stolen. Innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from becoming a victim, and steps to take if you think someone may have filed a fraudulent tax return using your name:

— Don’t carry your Social Security card or any other documents that include your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

— Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.

— Protect your financial information.

— Check your credit report every 12 months.

— Secure personal information in your home.

— Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.

— Don’t give personal information over the telephone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact, or you are sure you know with whom you are dealing.

You may be a victim of identity theft if the following happens:

— More than one tax return for you was filed.

— You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.

— IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned.

— Your state or federal benefits were reduced or canceled because the agency received information reporting an income change.

Anyone who receives a notice from the IRS and suspects their identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately to the contact phone number provided on the notice.

If you did not receive a notice from the IRS, but still believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490, ext. 245. Also, fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.