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Tax ID Theft Victims Should Get IRS-Issued Identity Protection PIN

By Marcia Richards Suelzer, MA, JD | June 29, 2012

Victims of identity theft know it is a frightening and frustrating situation. Many times the theft will mean that someone else now has your Social Security number, putting much of your private information—including tax information—at risk. To help protect the tax information of identity theft victims, the IRS will issue an identification number that should be used in lieu of the Social Security number.


Your identity may have been stolen if you receive a letter from the IRS stating that:

  • you filed more than one tax return

  • you have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file, or

  • you received wages from an employer you have not worked for

If you receive such a letter from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been stolen, respond immediately to the name, address, phone number or fax listed on the IRS letter or contact the IRS to determine if the letter is a legitimate IRS letter.

If you are a victim of tax-related identity theft (or a potential victim because someone has wrongfully obtained your Social Security number), you must file Form 14039 (PDF), Identity Theft Affidavit, with the IRS. The form provides directions that you must follow to verify your identity.

Once the form is filed and your identity verified, then the IRS will send you IRS Letter 4869CS, which will provide you with a six-digit identity protection personal identification number (IP PIN) and instructions for its use on your 2011 tax return. For electronic returns, the software will indicate where to insert the IP PIN. For paper returns, enter the IP PIN in the six boxes to the right of the spouse's occupation in the signature section.

Unlike your Social Security number, the ID PIN is not a permanent identification number. Rather, it is like the security code that is found on the back of most credit cards. The ID PIN you receive for 2011 will be valid only for returns filed for the 2011 tax year. Additional information can be found on the IRS website in the article, Understanding Your LTR4869CS, or at www.IRS.gov by searching the keywords "identity theft."

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