Do This If Someone Filed A False Tax Return In Your Name

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A Fraudulent Tax Return Will Not Result In You Losing Refund

According You will most likely not lose your refund if the IRS paid your refund to a fraudulent claimant. You will have to wait for the IRS to complete an investigation, and this can take much time, up to six months or more in some cases.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Identity theft is nothing new, and most tax scams start with the theft of personal information. Everyone should follow the following strategies to prevent identity theft:

  • Be on the lookout for scams

Phishing attacks remain the most likely way for fraudsters to collect data. Emails that impersonate trusted websites and service providers require you to respond by providing your social security number or password to continue.  Be wary of any service provider asking you for confidential information via email.  Another strategy the criminals use is to contact taxpayers via telephone under the pretense that they are IRS agents. Any unsolicited phone call from the “IRS” should be a red flag. The IRS does not contact people out of the blue; it uses old fashioned snail mail and will never contact you via email or phone call. 



  • Do not carry your Social Security card or number

You do not need your Social Security card with you at all times. The risk is too high. If you lose your wallet, whoever finds it (or stole it) has your license and our Social Security card.  This is all that is required to file a fraudulent tax return in your name.

  • File as early as possible

The scammers file the moment tax filing opens to receive refunds before you contact the IRS.  If you get your return in first, fraudulent filing cannot be processed.

  • Sensitive data should be sent over secure channels
  • Strong Passwords

Most sites require passwords that contain characters, letters, and numbers. Always construct passwords that combine the same.  It is imperative to use a different password for every financial account and use two-factor identification when available.

  • Use reputable tax prepares

Tax prepares are sometimes the perpetrators of these scams, so it is imperative only to hire reliable and experienced professionals; check whether they hold credentials recognized by the IRS and ask them what security measures they have in place to protect your data.

Find Out When Someone Files A Return In Your Name

You will discover that someone filed a return in your name when the IRS flags a problem with your return, or when the IRS sends you an e-file rejection notice.

The IRS has a system which attempts to red flag suspicious returns. If their algorithm detects some anomalies, the IRS will send you a letter (via the postal service) to provide you with the opportunity to tag the return in question as fraudulent and to file a real return.

Most victims will not be as lucky, and typically the first sign that someone filed a fraudulent return in your name is when you receive an e-file rejection notice informing you of the same. The notification will not be specific and will only indicate that a problem arose with your Social Security number.  If you did not transpose your number or make a similar mistake, it is safe to assume that tax identity theft caused the rejection.


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What Must I Do If I Am A Victim Of Tax Identity Theft?

  • Complete a paper return

You still have to file even though your e-filed return was rejected to avoid penalties and late fees.  Submit a paper return along with the required payment.

  • File form 14039

Fill out and attach Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit along to your paper. You can also do this if the IRS sent you a letter or if you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft.  This form goes to the Identity Theft Victim Assistance Organization, and they will respond by asking you to supply documentation to verify your identity (copy of driver’s license, Social Security Card, or utility bills).

  • File a police report

Now, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. The police will not likely track down the culprit, but the report will be useful when you need to stop collection efforts if it so happens that the identity thieves also racked up much debt in your name. 

  • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission

The FTC does not investigate identity theft; they only compile statistical information on crimes and offer helpful information for taxpayers who are victims. You can file a report and receive a recovery plan by going to

  • Request a copy of the fraudulent return

You can if someone filed a fraudulent return with your Social Security number.  Perusing a copy of the fraudulent return can help you to determine all the family information used by the perpetrators. File Form 4506-F to request the same.

  • Check your credit report and account statements

Typically fraudsters will not stop after filing a fraudulent tax return. Most likely, they will use your information many times.  Investigate your credit card accounts to see whether your address or any other information was changed.  Change your online passwords and delete your credit card information from online shopping accounts. 

  • Put a credit freeze on all your accounts

Contact all the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and instruct them to freeze your credit.  This will prevent anyone else from opening a new account in your name.  Of course, before you can apply for any new credit afterward, you will have to unfreeze your account until these providers have checked your credit.

  • Get a PIN for tax filing

The IRS provides an additional level of protection. You can request a six-digit IP PIN if the IRS invited you to opt-in or if you filed your tax return from the states that qualify (including for example, Georgia and Florida and the District of Columbia.  Once you receive your PIN, you can never file without it again. 

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Readers should note that this article is only intended to convey general information on these issues and that FAS CPA & Consultants (FAS) in no way intends for the contents of this article to be construed as accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services.  This article cannot serve as a substitute for such professional services or advice.  Any decision or action that may affect the reader’s business should not rely solely on the contents of this article, but should rather be consulted on with a qualified professional adviser. FAS shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this presentation.  This article is subject to change at any time and for any reason.

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Fulton Abraham Sanchez, CPA

Fulton Abraham Sánchez, CPA I am Certified Public Accountant, specialized in Tax Planning & Offshore Strategies for Real Estate, Hedge/Equity Funds, Fintech, Crypto, Expats, IRS Debt Resolution. You can email me and follow us on Facebook : FAS CPA & Consultants.

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