Identity Theft – What to do if someone has already filed taxes using your Social Security number

If someone uses your information to file a fraudulent tax return, they are looking to get your tax refund. You will 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.

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.  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 will get a written notice that explains that a return has already been filed. 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 tax return has been filed with your Social Security number, you will use IRS Form 14039 to alert the IRS. When you complete this form, you will 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 will also provide information about the tax year affected and the last return you filed prior to the identity theft.

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 a 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:  IRS, PO 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 of ways to verify it: via phone number or through the IRS’s Identity Verification Service,

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.

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 (TIN); and (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, that person can use your identity to commit other crimes. In addition to alert 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 (FTC) also suggests filing an identity theft report with the police department, and also with the FTC online.

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