Tax Return Identity Theft: What to Do if You Fall Victim and Ways to Prevent It

Identity theft can be a frustrating problem for taxpayers, and it continues to be an area of concern for the IRS.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your social security number to file a return claiming a fraudulent refund.  Some warning signs of identity theft include receiving an IRS notice stating multiple tax returns were filed using your social security number, that you owe additional tax, or that you received wages from an employer that is unknown to you.

What do I do if I am a victim of identity theft?

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, the IRS suggests you taking the following steps:

  • File a police report.
  • File an FTC complaint
  • Contact one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your account
  • Close any financial accounts opened without your permission.
  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice, according to instructions.
  • Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Continue to file your tax return, even if by paper.

How do I protect myself from identity theft?

  • Do not carry your Social Security card or any document with your SSN on it
  • Do not give a business your SSN unless absolutely necessary
  • Check your credit report annually
  • Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually
  • Protect your personal computers using firewalls, anti-virus software and updating your passwords on all internet accounts
  • Never give personal information over the phone, through email or the internet unless you have initiated the contact or know who is asking.

For more information regarding tax-related identity theft, contact our office at 703.385.8888 or visit

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