Article | 2:22 min read

How to Recover from Tax-Related Identity Theft


Tax identity thieves are ready for tax season, whether you are or not.

Man filing his taxes

Tax identity theft is when someone uses your Social Security number to steal your tax refund. People often discover tax identity theft when they file their tax returns. If you were scammed, learn about what steps you should take if you become a victim.

Signs of Identity Theft

If someone uses your Social Security number to file for a tax refund before you do, you may not know you’re a victim of identity theft until the IRS notifies you of an issue with your return. Here are some signs you should be aware of:

  • You get a letter from the IRS about a suspicious tax return that you did not file
  • You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number
  • You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request
  • You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created using your name
  • You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action
  • You 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 indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for
  • You’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number but you did not request an EIN

What to Do If You’re Victim of Tax Identity Theft

If your Social Security number has been compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft there are steps you can take.

  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice
  • Visit for steps you should take right away to protect yourself and your financial accounts. Go to to create your FTC Identity Theft Report, IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, and personal recovery plan.

Important Tips to Remember

  • The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information
  • The IRS will never call you with threats of lawsuits or arrests
  • The IRS will never call, email or text you with the request of your Identity Protection PIN

How You Can Protect Yourself

Taking proper steps can help you avoid tax identity theft. Here’s what you can do to stay ahead of identity thieves.

  • File your taxes early
  • Apply for an Identity Protection PIN to reduce your chance of someone using your information to file taxes
  • Keep your tax records and Social Security card in a safe place
  • Pay attention to your mail, especially in January and February when your W-2 forms and 1099 forms are mailed
  • Be aware of phishing
  • Have your tax returns prepared by a qualified tax preparer
  • Protect your personal computer with firewalls, effective anti-virus software and updates
  • Use strong passwords and regularly change them

The information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as the opinion of Central Bancompany, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and does not imply endorsement or support of any of the mentioned information, products, services, or providers. All information presented is without any representation, guaranty, or warranty regarding the accuracy, relevance, or completeness of the information.