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Identity Theft: What to Do if Someone Has Already Filed Taxes Using Your Social Security Number

Updated for Tax Year 2016


OVERVIEW

If someone uses your information to file a fraudulent tax return, he or she is looking to get your tax refund. You'll want to work with the IRS as soon as you discover the identity theft to ensure that your actual return is processed as quickly as possible.


Notification

In many cases, when someone files a tax return using your Social Security number, you won’t find out until after the second return is filed. The second return could be from you or the person who has stolen your information.

Identity theft - what to do if someone has fraudulently filed a tax return with your identity

When the IRS receives two different returns with the same Social Security number, the second return filed will be rejected if you e-filed or if you paper-filed you’ll get a written notice that explains that a return has already been filed if you paper filed your return. Even if you don’t get a letter from the IRS but suspect a fraudulent return has been filed with your information, you can still take action.

IRS Form 14039

When you discover another a tax return has been filed with your Social Security number, you’ll use IRS Form 14039 to alert the IRS. When you complete this form, you’ll indicate that someone has stolen your identity and it has affected your tax account since they have filed a return using your identifying information. You’ll also provide information about the tax year affected and the last return you filed prior to the identity theft.

Sending Form 14039

After you complete Form 14039, mail it to the IRS with a copy of your Social Security card and driver’s license. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can substitute a U.S. Passport, military ID or other government-issued identification card.

If you received an IRS notice concerning the fraudulent return, include a copy of the notice. Mail the form and documents to the address shown in your notice.

If you did not receive an IRS notice, mail your documents to:

  • Internal Revenue Service
  • P.O. Box 9039
  • Andover, MA 01810-0939

Request for Identity Verification from the IRS

When the IRS stops a suspicious tax return filing, they may send a letter called "Letter 5071C" asking that you verify your identity. It will include a couple ways to verify it: via a phone number or through the IRS's Identity Verfication Service, https://idverify.irs.gov.

This online service is the quickest method and will ask you multiple-choice questions to verify whether or not the tax return flagged for further identity verification was filed by you or someone else. The IRS only sends such notices by mail. The IRS will not request that you verify your identity by contacting you by phone or through email. If you receive such calls or emails, they are likely a scam.

If you can't confirm your identity using the IRS' online Identity Verification Service, you can call the IRS at the phone number included in the letter.

When confirming your identity, you will need:

  1. Your name, date of birth and contact information
  2. Social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
  3. Your prior year tax return along with supporting documents such as W-2s, 1099s, and Schedules A and C if you filed them

Additional precautions

When someone has enough of your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return, she can use your identity to commit other crimes. In addition to alerting the IRS, you should place a freeze on your credit report file with all three credit bureaus to prevent unauthorized accounts from being opened. The Federal Trade Commission also suggests filing an identity theft report with your local police department, and also with the FTC online.

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


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