Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about identity theft, income tax fraud, and phone/email scams. The latest news from the IRS is that they are now sending letters to taxpayers to verify their identity … and as scammy as it looks, it’s totally legit. My advice is to check with a tax professional (especially if your tax professional happens to be me) if you’re in doubt.
Here’s that IRS news release:
Taxpayers Receiving Identity Verification Letter Should Use IDVerify.irs.gov
IR-2015-54, March 18, 2015
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who receive requests from the IRS to verify their identities that the Identity Verification Service website, idverify.irs.gov, offers the fastest, easiest way to complete the task.
Taxpayers may receive a letter when the IRS stops suspicious tax returns that have indications of being identity theft but contains 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 it or reject the returns if the taxpayers did not file it. The IRS does not request such information via email, nor will the IRS call a taxpayer directly to ask this information without you 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 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 safest, fastest option for taxpayers with web access.
Taxpayers should have available their prior year tax return and their current year tax return, if they filed one, including supporting documents, such as Forms W-2 and 1099 and Schedules A and C.
Taxpayers also may access idverify.irs.gov through www.IRS.gov by going to Understanding Your 5071C Letter or the Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter page. The tool is also available in Spanish. Taxpayers should always be aware of tax scams, efforts to solicit personally identifiable information and IRS impersonations. However, idverify.irs.gov is a secure, IRS-supported site that allows taxpayers to verify their identities quickly and safely.
IRS.gov is the official IRS website. Always look for a URL ending with “.gov” — not “.com,” “.org,” “.net,” or other nongovernmental URLs.