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Among the data exposed in the Equifax breach of 2017 were Social Security numbers, which thieves can use to file a fraudulent tax return using taxpayer information obtained in the breach. Tax-related identity theft is one of the top tax scams on the IRS "Dirty Dozen" list and the breach will exacerbate that problem.

The protections currently in place by the IRS are only available to those who have already fallen victim to tax-related identity theft. Just because a victim has had their Social Security number exposed is not enough to qualify for an IRS-provided identity protection pin. The full scope of damage felt from the Equifax breach will be an ongoing problem and it's still unclear what impact it will have on this filing season. Officials from the Identity Theft Resource Center have made these suggestions to avoid falling victim:

  • File early to beat the crooks
  • Use online access from the IRS to monitor your account
  • Keep a look out for important tax documents in the mail (CP2000 to verify unreported income or a 1099 from an employer you don't work for)