IRS Reminds Tax Preparers That IP PINs Are Now Available

The Internal Revenue Services and its Security Summit partners encourage professional tax preparers to step up their efforts to educate customers about the IRS Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program to fight tax-related identity theft.

IRS IP PINs are now available

The call came during the Security Summit’s annual summer campaign, targeting tax professionals and taking steps to stop data theft from their offices. The past year has seen a spike in identity theft with scammers using the pandemic, fake emails, social media posts and unexpected phone calls posing as IRS agents and other tactics to steal people’s money and identities.

For security reasons, tax professionals cannot obtain an IP PIN on behalf of clients. Taxpayers must obtain their IP PIN.

What is an IP PIN?

Scammers often cheat or hack into taxpayers’ computer systems to gain access to confidential data. They use the stolen data to file fraudulent tax returns, making it harder for the IRS and authorities to track down. This is because the fraudulent returns use real financial information. In some cases, scammers may sell the tax preparers or taxpayer information to other fraudsters to file fraudulent tax returns.

The IP PIN is a security tool currently available to taxpayers from the IRS. This tool makes it more difficult for criminals to file false tax returns in the name of the taxpayer.

An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit number that prevents anyone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The IP PIN is known only to you and the IRS and helps verify your identity when you file your electronic or paper tax return.

“These identity protection numbers provide an extra layer of security to protect people from tax-related fraud related to the use of stolen personal information. Following work by the IRS, the IP PIN program is now available to anyone who can verify their identity. We urge tax professionals to encourage their clients to protect themselves through the IP PIN program,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/getanippin to do a thorough authentication check. Once the authentication is complete, an IP PIN is immediately provided online. For added security, a new IP PIN is generated every year.

The IP PIN protects your taxpayer’s account, even if you no longer need to file a tax return, by rejecting any e-return without your IP PIN.

Some red flags to watch out for in suspicious communications

Unsuspecting taxpayers and tax professionals are often prime targets for criminals who are both technical and tax savvy. Tax scams often create stress and anxiety when targeting victims of identity theft. Keep in mind that the IRS will not call you unexpectedly about a tax refund.

When approached by potential scammers, you should know that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS first sends a bill to any taxpayer who owes tax.

The IRS will not threaten to immediately call in local law enforcement or other law enforcement groups to arrest the taxpayer for failure to pay. Nor will it require taxes to be paid without taxpayers being able to question or appeal the amount owed.

Tax professionals dealing with data theft can assist clients by prompting them to quickly obtain an IP PIN. Even if a thief has already filed a fraudulent return, an IP PIN would still protect for years to come and prevent taxpayers from repeatedly falling victim to tax-related identity theft.

The IP PIN process for confirmed identity theft victims remains unchanged. These victims automatically receive an IP PIN every year.

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