The Internal Revenue Service rolled out an Identity Protection PIN opt-in program in December 2020 with the goal of helping to prevent taxpayer identity theft. Rather than using your Social Security number to file your taxes, exposing yourself to possible identity theft and fraud, this secure six-digit number can help the IRS verify your identity. It can accept and track your tax return, and issue your refund.
The window to apply for an identity protection personal identification number opened in mid-January 2021. Your number can only be used for one tax year. You can use your PIN when you file your 2021 tax return in 2022 if you apply now.
Who Can Get an IP PIN
You may qualify to use an IP PIN to file your taxes if you have a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), according to the IRS.gov FAQs page.
You must be able to verify some important financial information that appears on your credit reports to get a PIN. You may also be able to verify your identity by answering a series of questions over the phone. Alternatively, you can obtain an IP PIN if you have two forms of picture identification and can attend an in-person appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center. They're open in 2022 and the IRS has announced that they're even offering Saturday hours through May 14, 2022.
Those who are confirmed victims of identity theft with resolved tax account issues automatically receive a DP01A notice from the IRS with a new IP PIN each year.
This is an opt-in program for everyone else. You don’t have to claim your PIN if you’d prefer to file using your SSN or ITIN.
A secondary taxpayer, spouse or dependent can also qualify for an IP PIN as long as they have the proper information for identity verification and authentication.
How to Claim Your IP PIN From the IRS
Claiming your IP PIN from the IRS is easy. First, make sure you’re registered through the IRS website. If you’ve ever used an e-file program for your taxes, you have an account. Then, click “Get an IP Pin” on the IRS website.
Read more: When Can You Get That Tax Refund?
As part of the verification process, the IRS.gov website indicates that you must have information available, including:
- Your email address
- SSN or ITIN
- Tax filing status
- Mailing address
- One financial account number linked to your name
You also need access to a mobile phone linked to your name and the ability to receive text messages. You can receive an activation code by mail if this doesn't work for you.
Qualified financial accounts include:
- Visa, Mastercard, or Discover credit card
- Student loan account
- Mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit (HELOC)
- Auto loan
You can file Form 15227 if you don’t have the information required for authentication and you make $72,000 or less annually. You'll need a valid SSN or ITIN and access to a telephone to answer a series of questions. Your other option is to visit a Tax Assistance Center with two forms of photo ID.
The Importance of Using the PIN Program
Taxpayers can reduce their risk of identity theft by keeping their PIN secure. You should only provide your IP PIN to your tax preparer. The IRS will never ask for your IP PIN, and you should never provide it to anyone claiming to be an IRS representative.
Your PIN prevents anyone from filing fraudulent tax returns using your Social Security number. You must use your PIN to file your tax return if you have one. Your tax return will be returned and you'll have to e-file again if you enter the incorrect PIN.
You can obtain a new PIN by filling out a “Get an IP Pin” application if you've lost yours.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself
Identity theft and fraud remains a huge problem for many Americans. The Insurance Information Institute has indicated that losses associated with identity theft and cybercrime increased to $721.3 billion in 2021. The IP PIN program is just one way the IRS is reducing the number of fraudulent federal income tax returns being submitted. But it's important to safeguard your identity, your financial accounts, and your Social Security number in other ways, too.
Make sure that the software you use to e-file your taxes is secure, and that the network you’re connected to when you e-file is also secured and password protected. You should never file taxes from a public network.
Be smart when it comes to giving out personal information. The IRS communicates with taxpayers via mail and certified mail. They will not text you or email you asking for sensitive information, such as your IP PIN or SSN. The IRS will never call you asking for information, either. Make sure you're calling the number on your tax bill or a number you found on the IRS.gov website if you phone the IRS.
Be aware of scams and set up your identity protection PIN now so you can file your tax returns with added peace of mind.
- IRS.gov: Identity Protection Pin Program Will Soon Be Available to Taxpayers Nationwide
- IRS.gov: Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools
- IRS.gov: Get An Identity Protection Pin
- IRS.gov: Identity Theft Remains on Dirty Dozen List Despite Progress
- Insurance Information Institute: Facts and Statistics: Identity Theft and Cybercrime
- IRS: IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers Open on Special Saturdays for Face-to-Face Help
Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer, content strategist, and founder of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. A seasoned finance writer, her work has appeared on Forbes, Bankrate, Lending Tree, Solvable, Moneycrashers, and many other personal finance sites, including the award-winning Chase News & Stories portal. With more than 20 years editorial experience, Dawn seeks to take complex concepts and simplify them for today's busy readers. Whether she is writing about taxes or technology, her goal is always to educate, inform, and entertain.