Identity Theft & Tax Fraud
Under Your Name

Identity theft is a serious problem, impacting millions of people in the United States alone each year. Many forms of fraud can occur if someone steals your identity, including someone else taking out loans and credit cards in your name.

However, another form of fraud that we see more often as tax attorneys is tax fraud.

For example, a person may steal your identity, file a tax return under your name and claim a refund. Since the IRS has been involved in this form of theft, this form of theft is very complex and complicated for people to resolve on their own.

Safeguarding your identity requires you to:

  1. Learn the warning signs of identity theft
  2. Follow a strict legal process

If you follow these steps and work with a tax attorney, you can restore your identity and put an end to the fraud you’re experiencing.

Warning Signs That You May Be a Victim of Identify Theft

Swift action can help you prevent identity theft from progressing further. The longer that you go without resolving the theft, the more damage can occur. Many victims overlook the following warning signs:

IRS Notices

IRS officials often do not contact people if they pay their taxes on time and there are no outstanding issues. When a victim starts receiving any of the following, it’s often a red flag that your identity has been compromised:

  • A letter in the mail arrives from the IRS asking questions about a tax return you never filed
  • Letters in the mail containing a tax transcript that you did not request yourself
  • A notice in the mail from the IRS that notifies you that you owe the IRS more money or that collection actions are being taken out against you
  • IRS emails indicating:
    • An account with your name and information has been created
    • Your online account is disabled or has been accessed
  • Notification that you cannot e-file your tax returns because one has already been submitted with your Social Security number

You may also notice that your IRS records include wages that you know you didn’t earn. Unfortunately, victims of this type of tax fraud often have their federal or state benefits lowered or canceled completely because of reported income changes.

If you notice these signs, you may be a victim of identity theft. However, most people don’t realize that their identity has been stolen until the IRS contacts them about a potential issue. In either case, there are legal processes and procedures that you can follow to get through this difficult time.

Note: It’s important to verify that the notice that you receive is from the IRS. The IRS will never call you with threats of a lawsuit, contact you to ask for your identity protection PIN, or request financial or personal information through text, email or on social media.

Legal Process to Follow If You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

If you’ve confirmed that you’re a victim of identity theft, it’s important to breathe and understand that there’s a process to follow with the IRS. Quick action is crucial to prevent further fraud from occurring, and it can take up to 180 days for a case to be resolved.

The steps that you need to take right now if you haven’t done some already are:

Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit

The IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit should be contacted if you haven’t received an official notification of identity theft by the IRS. You can follow the guidance of the official IRS Fact Sheet.

Respond to Letter 5071C or 6331C

IRS officials may send you either letter 5071C or 6331C. The IRS asks, at the time of writing this, that you do not file form 14039 if you received either of these letters. If the IRS receives a tax return with your information that they need to verify, they’ll send you one of these letters.

You should immediately notify the IRS if you’re a victim of fraud and have not filed the tax return in question.

Fill in Form 14039: Identity Theft Affidavit

The IRS provides what is known as an “Identity Theft Affidavit” Form 14039 for victims of identity theft to fill out. It’s important that you take your time to fill out the form in its entirety so that it can be processed ASAP.

Report the Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants you to report any fraud to them. FTC officials want people to report the fraud to them because they try to identify and prevent fraud and abuse. You can report the fraud at

Contact the State’s Tax Agency

Tax fraud can occur on the federal and state level, although the latter is less common. It’s good practice to call your state’s tax hotline or visit the official website to learn more about how to report fraud.

Even if you don’t notice a discrepancy in your state taxes, be sure to follow this step.

Request a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report

Contact one of the following credit bureaus and request a fraud alert be put on your credit:

  1. Equifax
  2. Experian
  3. TransUnion

You only need to contact one bureau and they’ll put a fraud alert on your account and also contact the other bureaus on your behalf to request that they do the same. Fraud alerts last for a period of 90 days and will allow you this time to stop further damage from occurring.

Contact Banks, Lenders and Other Financial Institutions

Fraudsters will not stop at filing false tax returns. These individuals also have your Social Security number, and they can impersonate you to access your bank and other financial accounts.

You should contact any financial institutions that you deal with to place fraud alerts on these accounts, too.

Seek Legal Assistance

Identity theft is a costly, complicated process that no one should have to deal with alone. However, 1.43 million consumer reports of identity theft were submitted to the FTC already in 2023.

The steps above will prevent further damage to your credit and identity, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

We’re here to help you restore your identity, deal with the IRS and fight back against fraudsters.

Click here to schedule a free consultation with us today.


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