Frauds and scams continue to be on the rise, and more people are falling victim to these frustrating situations. If a scammer or thief gets access to an individual’s Social Security number, they can use this information to file a fraudulent tax return, which the IRS refers to as tax-related identity theft. Until the IRS notifies you or you try to submit your own tax return, you may not know that this has occurred.
The IRS scans the tax returns it receives for signs of fraud and pulls any returns that may be flagged as suspicious for additional review. If the agency determines that the filed return may be fraudulent or otherwise suspicious, they will send a letter to the affected taxpayer. Until the taxpayer responds to that letter, the IRS won’t process the return.
There are three types of letters that the IRS can send in a potential situation of identity fraud:
(Click the link to learn more about each type of letter and how the IRS uses it.)
If you receive one of these letters by mail, follow the steps outlined to resolve the potential identity fraud situation. The IRS does not contact taxpayers by phone, so any phone call that claims to be from this government agency should be treated as a scam. Never give any information to a caller who has reached out to you by phone. Letter 4883C will request taxpayers to contact the IRS by phone. Verify that the phone number provided in the letter is a real number for the IRS before providing any personal or financial information. The other two letters require taxpayers to verify their identity and confirm the filing of the return via an online system or in person at a Taxpayer Assistance Center.
By following the steps in the letter you received, you will provide all the information needed by the IRS to investigate the return. You do not need to file Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit) unless an IRS agent tells you otherwise.
Protect yourself and be prepared by knowing what steps to take if you receive a letter from the IRS regarding potential tax-related identity theft.