You can now protect your tax return with an IRS IP PIN against tax return fraud. The IRS will issue you your own PIN to include with your tax return so others cannot claim a refund based on your identity.
If you’re not aware of this scam, I can give you my real-life experience with having a refund issued to a scammer based on Mrs. P2F and my identity. Several years ago, we filed our return with a payment as we owed money. About a month later, we received a check for the amount of our payment along with a letter from the IRS explaining we didn’t owe the money because they issued a refund on a tax return filed earlier in the year.
Needless to say, we were dumbfounded and had to call the IRS to get a better understanding of what was going on. After spending an extraordinary amount of time on hold for an agent, I finally got through and explained that we owed money to the IRS (can you imagine?). The agent expended a lot of time going through records and then concluded that we were the victims of identity theft.
Clean-up is time consuming
The process to clean this up with the IRS was onerous and time consuming. We had to meet with our local police and file a complaint as well as fill out numerous forms for the government. Simultaniously, we had to order credit reports and freeze our accounts.
Some thought was given to applying for a change in Social Security numbers but the nightmare we faced with that seemed too much. Not only is the hurdle to change numbers with the Social Security Administration huge, you also risk having your earnings records compromised. Your social security number is imbedded in countless ways and we would be faced with making changes with organizations for years and years into the future.
IRS began issuing us IP PINs
After about three months of getting it straightened out with the IRS, Mrs. P2F and I each began receiving Identity Protection (IP) PINs in January. It’s a six-digit code that you include with your return. This lets the IRS know the return is actually yours.
As our experience demonstrates, this protection doesn’t only apply in cases where you are owed a refund. In our case, we owed the IRS money. The scammers simply faked a return with our identity to get themselves a refund.
IRS IP PINs now available
Up until now, the IRS IP PIN has only been available to those who have been previously compromised. However, starting this year the IRS is offering this additional authentication to folks who set up an account and request an IP PIN.
To opt in, visit the IRS website:
You will need to establish an account with the IRS where they will verify your identity. An IRS IP PIN is valid for one year and you must obtain a new number each year. You can see in the image below, the IRS IP PIN is input to the right of your signatures. Note – if you’re filing a joint return it makes sense for both of you to get your id’s as either tax id number can be used to file a fraudulent claim.
If you’re entitled to a refund, this resource can be really valuable. Especially in today’s economic environment, where every dollar can be critical, a fraudulent claim can delay your refund for many months. I strongly suggest using this new authentication process to provide an additional layer of protection. In fact, I’ll be adding the link to my list of Recommendations for future reference.
I hope this post helps in your identity protection. You may want to re-read Securing Online Accounts I posted back in August 2019. Anything we can do to enhance our online and digital protections is worth the small efforts.
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