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Ten Things the IRS Wants You to Know About Identity Theft

IRS TAX TIP 2010-58

Criminals use many methods to steal personal information from taxpayers. They can use your information to steal your identity and file a tax return in order to receive a refund. Here are 10 things the IRS wants you to know about identity theft so you can avoid becoming the victim of a scam artist.

  1. Identity thieves get your personal information by many different means, including stealing a wallet or purse or accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site. They even look for personal information in your trash. They also pose as someone who needs information through a phone call or e-mail.

  2. The IRS does not initiate contact with a taxpayer by e-mail.

  3. If you receive an e-mail scam, forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

  4. If you receive a letter from the IRS leading you to believe your identity has been stolen, respond immediately to the name, address or phone number on the IRS notice.

  5. Your identity may be stolen if a letter from the IRS indicates more than one tax return was filed for you or the letter states you received wages from an employer you don’t know.

  6. If your Social Security number is stolen, it may be used by another individual to get a job. That person’s employer would report income earned to the IRS using your Social Security number, making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return.

  7. If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost wallet, questionable credit card activity, or credit report, you need to provide the IRS with proof of your identity. You should submit a copy of your valid government-issued identification – such as a Social Security card, driver's license, or passport – along with a copy of a police report and/or a completed Form 14039, IRS Identity Theft Affidavit.

  8. Show your Social Security card to your employer when you start a job or to your financial institution for tax reporting purposes. Do not routinely carry your card or other documents that display your SSN.

  9. If you have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution, please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 1-800-908-4490.

  10. For more information about identity theft – including information about how to report identity theft, phishing and related fraudulent activity – visit the IRS Identity Theft Resource Page, which you can find by typing “Identity Theft” in the search box on the IRS.gov home page.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 06-Jun-2013