Tax-Related Identity Theft

An identity thief may use your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Contact the IRS if they send you a notice saying their records show:

  • you were paid by an employer you don't know
  • more than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number

Uncovering Tax-Related Identity Theft

The IRS uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to make sure your filing is accurate and complete, and that you get any refund you are due. Identity theft can affect how your tax return is processed. An unexpected notice or letter from the IRS could alert you that someone else is using your SSN, however, the IRS doesn't start contact with a taxpayer by sending an email, text or social media message that asks for personal or financial information. If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

If someone uses your SSN to file for a tax refund before you do, the IRS might think you already filed and got your refund. When you file your return later, IRS records will show the first filing and refund, and you’ll get a notice or letter from the IRS saying more than one return was filed for you.

If someone uses your SSN to get a job, the employer may report that person’s income to the IRS using your SSN. When you file your tax return, you won’t include those earnings. IRS records will show you failed to report all your income. The agency will send you a notice or letter saying you got wages but didn’t report them. The IRS doesn’t know those wages were reported by an employer you don’t know.

Dealing With Tax-Related Identity Theft

If you think someone used your SSN for a tax refund or a job — or the IRS sends you a notice or letter indicating a problem — contact the IRS immediately. Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.

  1. Contact the Internal Revenue Service.
    IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit

    1-800-908-4490
    1. Report the fraud.
    2. Send a copy of your police report or an IRS ID Theft Affidavit Form 14039 [PDF] and proof of your identity, such as a copy of your Social Security card, driver’s license or passport.
  2. Update your files.
    1. Record the dates you made calls or sent letters.
    2. Keep copies of letters in your files.

Other Steps to Repair Identity Theft

After you contact the IRS, it’s important to limit the potential damage from identity theft: