(BBB) – In 2016, according to the IRS, there were 883,000 tax returns with confirmed identity theft. Through awareness campaigns and partnerships with local and state agencies as well as consumer protection organizations, that number has decreased by more than 47% in recent years.
Nonetheless, tax identity theft still accounts for billions of dollars lost to taxpayers each year.
Tax identity theft often goes unnoticed by the tax payer until it time to their return, only to find out that a return has already been filed in their name. This can be an even bigger shock when you’re expecting a refund. So, what can you do to protect yourself from tax identity theft?
In addition to guarding your social security number with your life, freezing your credit reports, and closely monitoring your banking and credit card accounts, now you have a new tool available to help. In truth, it’s actually not new, but made more available this year by the IRS. That tool is an IP Pin.
An IP Pin is “is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security number.” It is automatically assigned to any taxpayer where the IRS has confirmed tax identity theft. Now, in 2021, the IRS has made the IP Pin available for voluntary adoption, even if you are not a victim of ID theft.
Here’s what you need to do to take advantage of this tool.
- Create an online account on IRS.gov.
- You will be asked to validate your identity. To find out what documents or information you will need to have available, check out the IRS information page on Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools.
- Renewal is not automatic: Once received, your IP Pin is good for only one year so it must be renewed annually. There is usually a renewal blackout period from November through January.
- If you lose your pin number, follow the steps on the Retrieve Your Identity Protection PIN page.
- If you prefer to file a paper application, wish to verify your identity in person, or read more details on How to get an IP Pin, follow the details outlined here.