During the last month your BBB® has received many phone calls from consumers who got a letter from the IRS with the letter number LTR 5071C. Since the letter asks consumers to give personally identifiable information (PII), they want to make sure the letter is not a scam. We investigated the situation and found that the letter is definitely from the IRS and until consumers follow through with the directions in the letter, the IRS won’t process their tax return. Here is what the letter looks like with any identifying information removed:
According to the IRS News Release, the IRS is sending out the letters in an effort to protect consumers from tax related identity theft. They send out a letter when they receive tax returns “that have indications of being identity theft but contain a real taxpayer’s name and/or Social Security number.”
Taxpayers have two options for verifying their identity. They may go to the special Identity Verification Service website or they may call the phone number given in the letter. They should gather the following information before making the call or visiting the website: name as it appears on your tax return, date of birth, contact information, Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number, copy of 2013 and 2014 tax return including Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and supporting documents. The Service is an independent, secure identity assistance service that uses non-governmental information (e.g. information contained in a credit report) to create questions that only the taxpayer is likely to know. The answers given by the taxpayer are checked against the Service’s records to verify that the tax return is legitimate. Once the taxpayer’s tax return is verified, it will take the IRS six weeks to process it.
The IRS warns taxpayers that the first contact will be the 5071C letter sent by U.S. Postal Service. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media to request personal or financial information. They will also not call a taxpayer directly to ask for identifying information without sending a letter first.
For more information about the IRS Identity Verification Letter, visit http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Employees/Understanding-Your-5071C-Letter. For more information about tax identity theft, visit bbb.org/Evansville.