In 2014, the FTC received 109,063 complaints involving tax identity theft. This number is 24 times higher than 2013. In response to the climbing statistics, the Internal Revenue Service has created a platform that allows taxpayers to verify their identities quickly and safely upon IRS request.
Taxpayers who receive requests from the IRS to verify their identities can do so through the Identity Verification Service website, idverify.irs.gov. The webpage provides taxpayers a fast and easy way to verify their identities.
Taxpayers may receive a letter when the IRS stops suspicious tax returns that have indications of being identity theft but contain a real taxpayer’s name and/or Social Security number. Only those taxpayers receiving Letter 5071C should access idverify.irs.gov. The website will ask a series of questions that only the real taxpayer can answer.
Once the identity is verified, the taxpayers can confirm whether or not they filed the return in question. If they did not file the return, the IRS can take steps at that time to assist them. If they did file the return, it will take approximately six weeks to process it and issue a refund.
Letter 5071C is mailed through the U.S. Postal Service to the address on the return. It asks taxpayers to verify their identities in order for the IRS to complete processing of the returns if the taxpayers did file them or reject the returns if the taxpayers did not file them. The IRS does not request such information via email, nor will the IRS call a taxpayer directly to ask this information without their receiving a letter first. The letter number can be found in the upper corner of the page.
The letter gives taxpayers two options to contact the IRS and confirm whether or not they filed the return. Taxpayers may use either the idverify.irs.gov site or call a toll-free number on the letter. Because of the high-volume on the toll-free numbers, the IRS-sponsored website, idverify.irs.gov, is the fastest option for taxpayers with web access.
Taxpayers should have the following documents handy in case they need to verify their identities:
- Prior year tax return
- Current year tax return, if they filed one
- Form W-2
- Schedules A and C
Taxpayers should always be aware of tax scams, efforts to solicit personally identifiable information and IRS impersonations. Although the webpage is a secure IRS-supported site, taxpayers should still be cautious. Always look for a URL ending with .gov – not .com, .org, .net or any other nongovernmental URLs. Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via electronic communication (email, text messages and social media) to request personal or financial information.