You are here

Tax identity Theft Awareness

Tax Identity Theft Awareness banner

Share this page

Tax identity thieves and IRS imposters are ready for tax season, whether you are or not. This page can help you find out how to help protect yourself and what to do if you or someone you know runs into problems.

What is tax identity theft? It happens when someone uses your Social Security number (SSN) to file a phony tax return and claim your refund. Employment-related tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your SSN to earn wages, which are then reported as your income.

IRS imposters are the scammers who pretend they’re calling from the IRS. They claim you owe taxes and demand that you pay right now, usually with a gift card or prepaid debit card. They threaten you’ll be arrested or face other bad consequences if you don’t pay. But it’s all a lie. If you send the money, it’s gone.

Check out our resources to learn more. In the meantime, to start fighting tax identity theft, remember:

  • Protect your SSN throughout the year. Don’t give it out unless there’s a good reason and you’re sure who you’re giving it to.
  • File your tax return as early in the tax season as you can.
  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
  • Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year for free at Make sure no one has opened a new account in your name.


Read our article on Tax-Related Identity Theft.

Visit the IRS’s Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.

Check out our infographic or watch our video to learn about IRS imposters.


What if tax identity theft happens to you?

Visit to report tax identity theft to the IRS and the FTC and get a personal recovery plan. helps you complete and file an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) online as your first step to recovery. 

Learn more and help other people avoid scams

Subscribe to get our blog posts and fraud alerts. Learn about the latest scams and consumer protection issues.

Order FTC publications for free in English and Spanish at Share them in your community.