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IRS Identity Protection PIN

IRS Identity Protection PIN
Ines Zemelman, EA
07 June 2022

When people talk about identity theft, they usually mean stolen personal information, credit card numbers, or bank accounts. However, identity theft also results in tax fraud. Cybercriminals may use your Social Security number to apply for jobs or benefits or file a tax return to get a refund.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that more than $5.8 billion was lost to fraud in 2021, up 70% over the previous year. Almost 2.8 million Americans filed a report to the agency — the highest level on record. The worst part: victims do not realize they have been defrauded until it's too late. And dealing with the aftermath can take months or even years.

With more tax-related transactions moving online, confidential financial information is more exposed than ever. Identity thieves take advantage of the confusion during tax season to steal personal data, or worse, taxpayers' money.

One of the best defenses against tax fraud is an IRS-issued Identity Protection PIN.

What is an Identity Protection PIN?

An Identity Protection Pin or IP PIN is a six-digit number issued by the IRS to taxpayers to prevent unauthorized individuals from filing a tax return using someone else's Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

The IRS uses the IP PIN to verify the taxpayer's identity when they file a return. It's important to note that the IP PIN is only known to the taxpayer and the IRS, and should only be shared with tax professionals.

The IP PIN is currently used on Forms 1040, 1040-PR, and 1040-SS.

Important: The IRS will never ask for a taxpayer's IP PIN. Report any communication (e.g. phone calls, texts, emails) that asks for your IP PIN.

Who is eligible for an Identity Protection PIN?

Until recently, IP PINs were only available to taxpayers who lived in states with high incidences of tax fraud or have experienced identity theft. The IRS has expanded the program nationwide and currently issues IP PINs to qualifying taxpayers on a voluntary basis.

You should request an IP PIN if:

Taxpayers may also request IP PINs for spouses and dependents provided they pass the authentication process.

The IRS uses ID.me, a third-party identity verification service, to authenticate taxpayer identities for its portals. In February 2022, the agency announced its intention to end the use of face-scanning and transition to new methods that do not use facial recognition.

How to get an Identity Protection PIN

Step 1: A taxpayer needs to create an IRS account on IRS.gov to apply for an IP PIN. 

If you don't already have one, you will need the following information to successfully complete the process:

  • Email address: The IRS will send tax-related emails to this address

  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

  • Tax-filing status of your latest tax return: It's recommended to have your digital copy of your physical tax return

  • Mailing address: Make sure to enter the exact address that is printed on your latest tax return

  • Financial account number: Examples include a student loan, a mortgage, an auto loan, or the last 8 digits of a credit card.

  • Mobile phone number under your name: The IRS will send an activation code to this number.

Step 2: Once you have created an IRS account, use the online tool to request an IP PIN. You may also request to receive your IP PIN through the U.S. Postal Service.

Important: The IP PIN is valid for one calendar year and a new number is generated annually.

Once the taxpayer has received their IP PIN, they must use it when they file their taxes. Electronically filed tax returns with the incorrect IP PIN will be rejected, while paper returns will be pulled for review.

What if I lose my Identity Protection PIN

If you have misplaced or forgotten your IP PIN, you may access the online Get an IP PIN tool on IRS.gov. It is the same online tool used to apply for an IP PIN.

If you cannot access the online IP PIN tool, you may call the IRS at 800-908-4490 to have your IP PIN reissued. The hotline is active Monday to Friday, from 7 AM to 7 PM (local time). Alaska and Hawaii residents will need to call during Pacific Time.

How to file a secure return

The IP PIN is just one of many methods you can use to protect yourself from identity fraud. However, cybercriminals find new ways to circumvent these protections and gain access to your confidential data. For peace of mind, your best option is to hire a tax professional.

The tax experts at TFX can help you maximize your tax savings while keeping your personal information secure and private. For over 25 years, we have helped countless American taxpayers file accurate tax returns. You can trust our team to give you the right tax advice for your situation.

Ines Zemelman, EA
Founder of TFX