LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – With the window to file your 2022 tax return open January 24 through April 18, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning taxpayers to be wary of identity theft.

One common variety comes in the form of tax-related identity theft in which a scammer uses your Social Security Number to file a false tax return and claim your refund before you do. When this happens, IRS records will show a return was already filed. If you submit by mail, you will receive a response in the mail informing you a return was already filed. If you submit electronically, your submission will be rejected as a duplicate filing.

Another variety is employment-related identity theft, where a scammer uses your Social Security Number to earn wages. When their employer reports the scammer’s income to the IRS using your Social Security Number, it can then be reported as part of your income. When you file your tax return and those additional wages are not included, IRS records will show that you failed to report all of your income.

If you are a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The IRS recommends the following steps if you believe your identity or Social Security Number have been compromised:

  • Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490
  • Respond immediately to any notice from the IRS
  • Complete the IRS Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit 
  • Continue to pay taxes and file your tax return
  • Know that while the process may be delayed, you are still entitled to a tax refund

Even if you have not been victimized by identity theft, the IRS recommends following these steps to help keep your information secure:

  • Do not give out your Social Security Number unless necessary. When you do, be sure who you are giving it to and how they will protect it
  • File your tax return as early as possible
  • Use a secure internet connection when filing electronically
  • Send your tax return directly from the post office when filing by mail
  • Research tax preparers thoroughly before giving up any personal information
  • Be protective of all personal information for you and your dependents Never send personal information via text or email.

In addition, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig issued the following public service announcements on the following topics to help taxpayers avoid issues this tax season:

It’s also important to beware of contact from scammers impersonating the IRS. IRS notices about tax-related identity theft will only be sent by email. They will not contact you by email, text, or social media messages asking for personal or financial details. Additionally, the IRS will not call taxpayers to threaten legal action or to ask for money.