You hang up the phone with a huge smile on your face. You just learned that you’re getting a pretty sizeable tax refund this year. Now all you need to do is kick back and wait a week or two for the IRS to wire the money into your bank account.
This good news, however, is unfortunately short-lived. The very next day you get another phone call.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but someone else has already used your Social Security number to file a tax return.”
You’re told that you’ll still be able to eventually get your nice, big tax refund, but it may be several months before you see the money. You first need to work with the IRS to resolve your case of identity theft.
There’s a secret weapon you can now use to protect your tax return – an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN).
Beginning this tax season, all taxpayers who can verify their identities are eligible to obtain an IP PIN. An IP PIN is a 6-digit PIN that offers additional protections when filing your tax return. This one-time-use number is sent to you by the IRS and must be entered on your tax return along with your Social Security number. Since the IP PIN is a one-time-use number, you will receive a new IP PIN number each year from the IRS.
If someone tries to fraudulently file a tax return using your Social Security number, they will be unable to do so without this IP PIN.
What You Need to Do
- How to get an IP PIN. To obtain an IP PIN, click here to visit the IRS’s Get an IP PIN tool to opt into the IP PIN program.
- If your identity has already been stolen. If someone uses your Social Security number to fraudulently file a tax return, ask for help to find out the next steps for getting your identity fraud case resolved with the IRS.
- Once in, tough to get out…for now. As this is the first year the IRS is making the IP PIN program available for anyone who wishes to use one, they are not ready to let you opt-out once you agree to participate. They anticipate adding the opt-out feature in the near future.