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Questions and Answers: Mailings about suspicious activity related to the DRT and FAFSA

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April 7, 2017

Protecting the data and information of taxpayers is a priority for the IRS. Identity thieves may have used personal information obtained outside the tax system to access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in an attempt to secure tax information through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. As a precautionary step, the IRS has moved quickly to notify taxpayers who could be affected as well as offering them free credit monitoring. In early April, the IRS started mailing about 100,000 notifications to taxpayers.

Question:  Who is the IRS notifying about suspicious activity related to the Data Retrieval Tool and FAFSA?

Answer: The IRS is working to identify taxpayers affected by questionable use of the Data Retrieval Tool on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov. Identity thieves may have used personal information obtained outside the tax system to access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in an attempt to secure tax information through the Data Retrieval Tool. When the agency identifies suspicious activity related to FAFSA, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer notifying them of this possibility. The IRS letter offers free credit monitoring.

Question: Are people who get these notifications a victim of identity theft?

Answer: The notifications are being sent when the IRS sees indicators of suspicious activity related to the Data Retrieval Tool and FAFSA. It doesn’t mean the person is a victim of identity theft, but the IRS wants to take an extra step to alert people that there might be suspicious activity related to their personal information.

Question: I filled out a FAFSA form, but I didn’t receive a notice of suspicious activity. Should I be concerned? Do I need to do anything else?

Answer: No, not at this time. The IRS will notify those people who may be at risk due to this issue.

Question: When is the IRS mailing these notifications to people?

Answer: The mailings began the first week of April.

Question: I never applied for a student loan or used FAFSA. Why am I getting this letter about suspicious activity?

Answer: The IRS has been working with Federal Student Aid (FSA) to determine instances of suspicious activity on the FAFSA site. When a suspicious situation is identified, the IRS will take steps to notify people that someone may have been using their information.  If you never used the FAFSA application, you are getting this notice because someone else did use the application in your name. With this precautionary notification, the person can obtain free credit monitoring. In addition, the IRS will take an extra precautionary step to mark their tax account to protect the taxpayer from possible tax-related identity theft.

Question: I used FAFSA but didn’t actually complete the application. Why am I getting a letter?

Answer: The IRS is taking precautionary steps to notify people about potentially suspicious activity on FAFSA that involved the Data Retrieval Tool. It’s possible you are getting the letter even though you were the legitimate person using the Data Retrieval Tool. The IRS is sending the letters as a precautionary step to alert taxpayers and offer them protection.

Question: I used FAFSA and I completed the application. Why am I getting a letter?

Answer: The IRS is taking steps to notify people about potentially suspicious activity on FAFSA that involved the Data Retrieval Tool. It’s possible you are getting the letter even though you were the legitimate person using the Data Retrieval Tool. The IRS is sending the letters as a precautionary step to alert taxpayers and offer them protection.

Question: I received a letter about suspicious activity on the Data Retrieval Tool and FAFSA. Does this mean there’s a problem with my tax return?

Answer: No, not necessarily. Using the Data Retrieval Tool is a separate process from filing a tax return. If there’s an issue with your tax return or tax refund, the IRS will contact you by mail with specific details and instructions. For those who receive a notification about suspicious activity on the Data Retrieval Tool and FAFSA, the IRS also will take an extra precautionary step and mark their tax account to protect the taxpayer from possible identity theft. If you have not yet filed a tax return, we ask you to file as you normally would. 

 

 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 12-Apr-2017