How to Spot Tax Identity Fraud

Tax identity fraud is difficult to catch before the fraud occurs. However, consumers who fall victim to tax identity fraud often discover it in one of the following ways:

  • If someone else has already filed a tax return using your personal information (such as a social security  number), they may get your refund. When you later file your own return, the IRS will send you a notice letter indicating that your refund has already been sent out.
  • When someone else uses your social  security number to obtain employment, the employer will report those earnings to the IRS. When you file your tax return, you won’t include the identity thief’s earnings in your return. When the IRS notices the discrepancy, they will send you a letter stating that you’ve failed to  declare all your income.
  • If your income does not meet a certain threshold, you may not be required to file taxes. However, if someone else using your social security number to obtain employment fails to file taxes, your account may end up in collections. A collections notice from the IRS may be a sign of tax identity theft.

If you receive one of these notices from the IRS or state tax authorities, contact the agency immediately. The IRS Identity Theft Protection Specialized Unit can be reached at 1-800-908-4490. A list of state tax authorities’ contact information is available from the Federation of Tax Administrators.