Signs of Identity Theft, Action to take in case of breach, and how to protect your data and identity

Date: August 11, 2022

Identity theft related to tax happens when someone steals your personal information, such as
Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. If you suspect you are a victim
of identity theft, you must continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must file a
paper return.
There are multiple signs of identity theft. You might get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a
suspicious tax return that you did not file. You might not be able to e-file your tax return because of a
duplicate Social Security number. You might get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request. You might get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name. You might get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action. You might get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection
actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return. IRS records might indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for. You might be assigned an Employer Identification Number but you did not request an EIN.
There are various steps that you can take in case you are a victim of identity theft. First, it could
be a tax-related identity theft. If this happens you must respond immediately to any IRS notice by calling the number provided. If your e-filed return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under your Social Security number, or if the IRS instructs you to do so, complete the IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Use a fillable form at, print, then attach the form to your return and mail your return according to instructions. Visit for steps you should take right away to protect yourself and your financial accounts. If you previously contacted IRS and did not have a resolution, contact the IRS for a specialized assistance at 800-908-4490. If you believe someone has filed a fraudulent return in your name, you can get a copy of the return. If you e-file your tax return and get a message telling you that a dependent on your return has been claimed on another tax return or their own, or if you receive an IRS Notice CP87A, you’ll need to find out why someone else claimed your dependent.

Second, there could be employment-related identity theft. If you believe someone has been
using your Social Security number for employment purposes (as opposed to filing fraudulent tax returns for refunds in your name) see the IRS Guide to Employment-Related Theft.
Third, if you have been assigned an EIN not requested, you should first determine if someone
acted legitimately on your behalf. It’s important for you to determine why the EIN was assigned to you
before assuming you’re a victim of identity theft. A third party may have requested an EIN on your
behalf for a legitimate business purpose.
Fourth, if there has been a data breach, you must remember that not all data breaches or
computer hacks result in tax-related identity theft. It’s important to know what type of personal
information was stolen. If you’ve been a victim of a data breach, keep in touch with the company to
learn what it is doing to protect you and follow the “Steps for victims of identity theft.” Data breach
victims should submit a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, only if your Social Security number has
been compromised and your e-filed return was rejected as a duplicate or the IRS instructs you to file the form.
There are ways of protecting your data and identity. As for your computer and mobile phone,
you can use security software and make sure it updates automatically; essential tools include
virus/malware protection and a firewall. You can also use encryption programs to protect sensitive
digital data. You should treat your personal information like cash; and not leave it lying around. You
should use strong unique passwords; and consider using a password manager. You should use multi-
facto authentication when it’s offered. You should also give personal and financial information only over
encrypted websites; such websites have “https” addresses. In addition, you should back up your files. All taxpayers who can verify their identities are eligible for an Identity Protection PIN. The IP PIN is a 6-digit PIN that offers additional protections for your Social Security number on your tax return. To obtain an IP PIN, use the Get an IP PIN tool to opt into the program. If you already have an IRS account, enter your username and password. If not, you must verify your identity through a rigorous Secure Access
authentication process. Review the Secure Access requirements before you start.

Here is how to contact Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, Indiana Legal Services, Inc. if you need help.

Indiana Legal Services, Inc.
College Square, 2 nd Floor
214 South College Avenue

Bloomington, IN 47404

Toll Free: (800) 822-4774

Phone: (812) 339-7668

Fax: (812) 339-2081

Intake Number & Hours:

(844) 243-8570 | M-F 10AM—2PM EST

Richard Kim,
Legal Extern in Public Service