IRS Identity Theft

Posted by Ray Barry


Identity theft could happen to any person or business. If someone steals your social security number, the thief could file an IRS tax return on your behalf to get money that may be owed to you. Even if you are careful with your social security number, it could still be stolen from any place you’ve used it, such as a bank, a mortgage broker, anyplace you’ve applied for credit or other places you may use your social security number. Chances are, a thief hacked a business to get your social security number. If you lost your wallet and your social security card was in the wallet, the person who found it could steal your identity.

How to Prevent IRS Identity Theft

Always look for the warning signs of IRS identity theft. These include receiving an IRS identity theft letter that says you already filed a tax return, you get a notice stating that you have a refund offset or owe more tax, you may have collection actions from the IRS for a year you didn’t file a tax return, the IRS notifies you that you made more money than you actually did, or your federal or state benefits are canceled or reduced due to a reported income change. You can help keep your identity safe by:

  • Never carry your taxpayer identification number or social security number with you.

  • Protect any financial information by shredding it instead of just throwing it away when it’s time to purge files.

  • Only give out your social security number when it’s required, not for just any reason. If someone needs to check your credit, giving your social security number is fine. Using your social security number as identification is not recommended unless you are a veteran and the Veteran’s Administration requests it.

  • Check your credit often. While the IRS recommends that you check it every 12 months, you should check your credit at least every three months. You can check your credit online through free sites such as Credit Karma.

  • Create a social security account online and check the statements at least once per year if not more often.

  • Keep personal information under lock and key in your home.

  • Make sure you have firewalls and virus checkers on your computer and that it is secure.

  • Never give personal information over the phone or via the mail unless you made contact with the agency or you know who you are speaking with.

Tax-Related Identity Theft Facts

The only way an identity thief can commit IRS identity theft against you is to use your social security number. You’ll know someone filed a tax return with your social security number if the IRS sends you a letter stating it got a suspicious return attached to your social security number or if you try to efile, but the IRS rejects it and tells you that it’s a duplicate return. You should know how to report identity theft. If you received a letter from the IRS follow the instructions in the letter then point your browser to to report the issue to the FTC and the IRS. You’ll also get a recovery plan from the site.

IRS identity theft examples include someone using your social security number to get a job or someone files a false return with your social security number. Creating an IRS identity theft PIN to file your taxes helps prevent someone else from filing under your number.

The IRS will never contact you by phone, text, email or social media about your account. It will always send you a letter via regular mail. Furthermore, the IRS never contacts you to ask you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card or gift card. If someone calls you asking you to pay money via any of these methods, hang up and report the phone call. If you get an email or other digital requests, forward it to If someone says they are from the IRS, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at

Contact Carolina Shred

You may also protect yourself against identity theft by shredding any documents you no longer need. Contact Carolina Shred to set up an appointment to shred old tax returns, other financial documents and documents with personal information, even if it’s just an address.