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IRS Criminal Investigation Atlanta Field Office focusing taxpayers’ attention on identity theft during National Consumer Protection Week

ATLANTA – IRS Criminal Investigation is one of several federal agencies raising awareness of consumer rights and how to protect them during National Consumer Protection Week, which is observed from March 5 – 11.

National Consumer Protection Week, sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission, brings together public and private sector organizations that work to educate and protect people from frauds, scams, and other threats.

“National Consumer Protection Week provides IRS Criminal Investigation an opportunity to help focus taxpayers’ attention on how to avoid frauds and scams,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office.

During FY22, IRS Criminal Investigation initiated more than 2,550 criminal investigations and identified over $31 billion from tax and financial crimes.

“Many of these crimes are made possible because criminals are using someone else’s identity,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “There are several ways taxpayers become aware their identities have been taken, including discovering someone else has already filed a return using theirs or dependents social security number.”

Taxpayers who are victims of identity theft involving their taxes can call the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490, where they will receive instructions on how to report the crime.

The following are tips to avoid identity theft:

  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong, unique passwords for each account.
  • Protect your Records.  Do not carry your Social Security card or other documents with your SSN on them. Only provide your SSN if it’s necessary and you know the person requesting it. Protect your personal information at home and protect your computers with anti-spam and anti-virus software. Routinely change passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Report Suspicious Activity.  If you suspect or know of an individual or business that is committing tax fraud, you can visit IRS.gov and follow the chart on How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity.
  • Don’t Fall for Scams.  The IRS will not call you to demand immediate payment, nor will it call about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill. Beware of threatening phone calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS. If you have no reason to believe you owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.
  • Report ID Theft to Law Enforcement.  If your SSN was compromised and you think you may be the victim of tax-related ID theft, file a police report. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant. It’s also important to contact one of the three credit bureaus so they can place a freeze on your account.
  • Complete an IRS Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit.  Once you’ve filed a police report, file an IRS Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit.  Print the form and mail or fax it according to the instructions. Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper. 
  • Understand IRS Notices.  Once the IRS verifies a taxpayer’s identity, the agency will mail a particular letter to the taxpayer. The notice says that the IRS is monitoring the taxpayer’s account. Some notices may contain a unique Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) for tax filing purposes.
  • IP PINs.  If a taxpayer reports that they are a victim of ID theft or the IRS identifies a taxpayer as being a victim, they will be issued an IP PIN. The IP PIN is a unique six-digit number that a victim of ID theft uses to file a tax return. 
  • Data Breaches.  If you learn about a data breach that may have compromised your personal information, keep in mind not every data breach results in identity theft.  Further, not every identity theft case involves taxes. Make sure you know what kind of information has been stolen so you can take the appropriate steps before contacting the IRS.
  • If you do your own taxes online, use your provider’s multi-factor authentication option to protect your online account. This multi-factor or 2-factor authentication will help prevent thieves from accessing your online tax account and stealing your information. Multi-factor authentication is now commonly offered to protect other accounts such as social media, email and others. Use multi-factor authentication wherever it is an option.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card company and even the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.