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IRS Alerts Tax Pros: Be Aware of Signs of Identity Theft

Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Aug 2, 2022

GettyImages-174879501 IRS Internal Revenue Service

The IRS has issued a warning to tax professionals to be on the lookout for several tell-tale signs of identity theft.

The IRS noted that one common concern that tax professionals mention is that they didn’t immediately recognize the signs of data theft.  With that in mind, the IRS, along with state tax agencies and the representatives of tax industry– working together as the Security Summit—urged tax professionals to be on the lookout for the following signs: 

• Client e-filed returns that are rejected because the client's Social Security number was already used on another return. 

• More e-file acknowledgements received than returns that the tax pro filed. 

• Clients responding to emails that the tax pro didn't send. 

• Slow or unexpected computer or network responsiveness such as: software or actions taking longer to process than usual; a computer cursor that moves or changes numbers without touching the mouse or keyboard; or being unexpectedly locked out of a network or computer. 

The IRS also urged tax professionals to watch for warning signs when clients report that they've received: 

• IRS Authentication letters (5071C, 6331C, 4883C, 5747C) even though they haven't filed a return. 

• A refund even though they haven't filed a return. 

• A tax transcript they didn't request. 

• Emails or calls from the tax pro that they didn't initiate. 

• A notice that someone created an IRS online account for the taxpayer without their consent. 

• A notice the taxpayer wasn't expecting that someone accessed their IRS online account; that the IRS disabled the taxpayer’s online account; or that balance due or other notices from the IRS t are not correct based on a return filed or if a return had not been filed. 

The IRS noted that these are just a few examples. It urged tax pros to  react quickly if they sense or see something amiss. Specifically, if tax pros or their firm are the victim of data theft, they should  immediately: 

Report it to the local IRS Stakeholder Liaison. Liaisons will then notify the IRS;s Criminal Investigation unit and others within the agency on the practitioner's behalf. Speed is critical, the IRS said. If reported quickly, the IRS can take steps to block fraudulent returns in the clients' names and will assist tax pros through the process. 

Email the Federation of Tax Administrators at  Tax pros should find out how to report victim information to the states. Most states require that the state attorney general be notified of data breaches. This notification process may involve multiple offices. 

The IRS urged tax pros to be proactive with clients who might have been affected and suggest appropriate actions, such as obtaining an IP PIN or completing a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit if applicable. The Security Summit has a reminder about the importance of IP PINs

If tax pros or their firms are themselves victims of data theft, they should immediately report it to the local IRS Stakeholder Liaison and email the Federation of Tax Administrators at  

"Tax pros much be vigilant to protect their systems from identity thieves who continue to look for ways to steal data," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Practitioners can take simple steps to remain on the lookout for signs of data and identity theft. It's critical for tax pros to watch out for these details and to quickly take action when tell-tale signs emerge. This can be critical to protect their business as well as their clients against identity theft.

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