May 24, 2010 12:00 am

New IRS Publication Warns Against Identity Theft

Identity theft results when someone uses another person’s name, Social Security number, or other identifying information without permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. It can take a victim months and lots of money to rectify the problems resulting from identity theft. The IRS has provided guidance to deter identity theft and what to do if it happens.

Beware of bogus IRS email

Do not respond to any email purported to come from the IRS:

  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email.
  • The IRS does not request personal information through email.

You can report suspicious contacts you receive to the IRS at [email protected].

Don’t become a victim

The IRS also offers these tips to minimize the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any document(s) with your Social Security number on it.
  • Don’t give businesses your Social Security number just because they ask; give your number only when absolutely necessary (e.g., you are a freelancer who is asked to complete Form W-9).
  • Check your credit report every 12 months. You can do so for free at
  • Secure personal information in your home.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches, and change passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

Source: IRS Publication 4535, Identity Theft Protection and Victim Assistance


Tax Glossary

Amended return

On Form 1040X, you may file an amended return within a three-year period to claim a refund or correct a mistake made on an original or previously amended return.

More terms