If You’ve Fallen Victim to a Tax Scam, Use Form 14039

April 10, 2013 : Jenna Bromberg

Nearly 18 million U.S. residents have fallen victim to identity theft. And many common identity theft scams peak during tax filing season, with unsuspecting taxpayers readily sharing personal financial information through tax-related phishing scams orchestrated by criminals posing as the IRS.

Unfortunately, identity thieves commonly use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file tax returns and claim refunds.

How do I know if I’m a victim?

You may be unaware that you’ve become a victim until you file your tax return and discover that two returns have been filed using your Social Security number (SSN). Criminals tend to file forged returns early on in the filing season to try to beat you to the punch — so if you’re a victim, you may have been alerted after you attempted to file your legitimate return.

Per the IRS, you may be a victim of identity theft if you receive an IRS notice or letter that states that:

  • More than one tax return for you was filed,
  • You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return, or
  • IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you.

Someone stole my identity and filed a fraudulent return. Now what?

The IRS advises you to respond immediately if you’ve received a letter from them:

“If you believe someone may have used your SSN fraudulently, please notify IRS immediately by responding to the name and number printed on the notice or letter.”

If you are a victim, you need to fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. Identity theft victims should submit a Form 14039 in the following cases:

  • If your SSN has been compromised and your e-file return was rejected as a duplicate.
  • IRS has informed you that you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft.

If you have already been in contact with the IRS and still have not reached a resolution, you’re advised to call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit:  1-800-908-4490. The IRS has more than doubled the number of employees they’ve assigned to identity theft related cases since 2011, and they have trained 35,000 employees who work with taxpayers to help with identity theft situations.

I’m concerned that I might be at risk. What can I do?

If you lost your wallet, you clicked on a link in a suspicious email, shared some financial information online or you’ve noticed some sketchy activity on your credit report, don’t wait until you get confirmation of identity theft — act now. Let credit agencies know that there may be fraudulent activity in the near future. Change passwords to all online bank and financial accounts. Close accounts that you think may have been affected.

Remember: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information, including any type of electronic communication (like email, text messages and social media channels). If you received any electronic communication claiming to be from the IRS and shared your personal information, you may be at high risk.

If you have concerns that you may be at risk for identity theft and are concerned about someone filing a fraudulent return, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 so they can take action to secure your tax account.

Learn how to protect yourself from tax scams — view more tax tips here.

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Jenna Bromberg

Jenna Bromberg

Past Contributor

Jenna helped manage the national social media programs at Houlihan's Restaurants, Inc. and was a copywriter for all three brands in the HRI family before joining H&R Block.