Protect yourself from identity theft this tax season

Tax season is here once again. As you track down your documents and determine your deductions by the April 15 filing deadline, scammers are on the hunt for their next target.

In 2023, the IRS identified $5.5 billion in tax fraud, including tax-related identity theft. Scammers are notorious for impersonating the IRS and other organizations to trick individuals into sharing personal information. They can use that information to steal money, file false tax returns and more.

Protect your identity, your wallet and your peace of mind with these tips:

Know How to Identify a Tax Scam

  • Communication Methods
    The IRS initiates contact with taxpayers by mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service, except under extreme circumstances. Be suspicious of any other form of contact that appears to be from the IRS, as it may be phishing.
  • Requests for Personal Information
    Any request asking for personal information via email, text or phone is a scam. Government agencies and legitimate tax professionals will never ask you to share your Social Security number (SSN), banking information or a username and password in these ways.
  • Telltale Signs of Phishing
    Look out for an unusual sense of urgency, awkward wording and misspellings, and generic greetings in emails and texts. Hover over links before clicking them to avoid unintentionally downloading malware onto your devices. Verify an email sender’s address to ensure it is legitimate — for instance, an email from the IRS should come from an email address. For more on phishing, see Phishing at NC State.
  • Offers for Bigger, Better Refunds
    Don’t fall for schemes that seem too good to be true, like a tax preparer offering to help you get an unusually large refund. When looking for a tax preparer, be sure to choose a trusted professional. One recent scam involves a letter, sent via a delivery service, that insists the individual share personal information to receive an unclaimed refund. To check your official refund status, use the Where’s My Refund? tool on the IRS website.

File Your Taxes Now

Waiting until April to file your taxes puts you at a higher risk of identity theft. By checking the task off your to-do list as soon as possible, you decrease the chances of a criminal filing a fraudulent return using your SSN. If you’re not ready to file your taxes yet, consider requesting an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN). The IRS assigns this six-digit number to a taxpayer as an extra way to verify their identity when filing taxes. Think of an IP PIN as two-factor authentication for your tax returns. 

Report Fraud

If you receive a legitimate notice from the IRS that you may be the victim of identity theft, call the number provided immediately to discuss the incident. Report tax-related phishing scams to, and also report any suspected fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. You can request a copy of tax returns you believe were fraudulently filed in your name. For more information, see Taxpayer guide to identity theft.

Always report any phishing attempts sent to your NC State email address. Use Google’s built-in reporting feature by opening the suspicious email, clicking More (three vertical dots) at the top-right corner and selecting Report phishing. You can also send suspicious emails and texts to