When you are a victim of a resolved case of tax-related identity theft, the IRS will issue you an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) to help protect you from future fraud. Clearing up tax-related identity theft can take time and effort and seriously delay any tax refund you may be owed, so it’s important to utilize your IP PIN and keep it safe from criminals.

If you use (or plan to use) an IP PIN on your tax returns, you may be asking yourself: do I get a new IP PIN every year? Here’s what you need to know.

What is an IP PIN?

A tax IP PIN is a unique six-digit number that helps prevent criminals from filing a tax return fraudulently using your Social Security number (SSN) or your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The IRS sends IP PINs directly to taxpayers, who must provide them on their electronic or paper tax returns to verify their identity.

The IRS assigns IP PINs to taxpayers with confirmed cases of tax-related identity theft that have been resolved. But anyone with an SSN or ITIN who wants to voluntarily sign up for an IP PIN can do so, whether or not they have experienced identity theft in the past.

Do I Get a New IP PIN Every Year?

The IRS will create a new IP PIN to send you every calendar year before tax season starts, between mid-December and early January, via a CP01A notice in the mail. If you chose to get an IP PIN online you can access it in early January, and you will not receive one in the mail.

How Can I Help Protect My IP PIN?

It’s important to keep your IP PIN safe to prevent tax-related identity theft. Here are some tips for helping protect your IP PIN:

Keep it Confidential

Don’t share your IP PIN with anyone other than your tax preparer and the IRS on your electronic or paper tax return. Never provide your IP PIN to anyone via email, text message, or over the phone.

Secure Physical Documents

Store your tax documents, including your IP PIN, in a secure location like a safe, lockbox, or filing cabinet. Only share documents with trusted individuals, such as your tax preparer. If you receive a CP01A notice and mail your tax return, your IP PIN will be traveling by mail; consider using a locked mailbox and taking your tax return directly to the post office.

In most cases, you will only need to keep your tax returns and records for three years (or seven years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction). Once you no longer need old tax documents, make sure to shred them before you dispose of them.

Be Cautious of Phishing Attempts

Never respond to emails, phone calls, or messages claiming to be from the IRS and asking for your IP PIN. The IRS does not initiate contact through these channels to request IP PINs – these communications are most likely scams. Want to get in touch with the IRS or verify the legitimacy of a communication? Contact the IRS by navigating directly to its website and finding the best option to reach out.

Don’t click links or download attachments from unverified emails or text messages, even if they claim to be from a legitimate source. Make sure that a link or file is secure before you click it or download it.

Be Safe Online

Take steps to stay safe online. Make sure to use unique passwords across every online account you have (a password manager can help you automatically create strong passwords and keep them secure). Sign up for multi-factor authentication (MFA) for any account that offers it to add an extra layer of security at the point of login.

Make sure to install updates and patches to your devices, operating systems, programs, and apps to ensure you’re using software with the latest security enhancements. When you’re out in public, only connect to secure, password-protected Wi-Fi networks. If you can’t trust a Wi-Fi connection, just use your mobile data until you get to a secure network.

Regularly Monitor Your Financial Accounts

Fraud can continue for a long time if you don’t catch it quickly. Make sure to monitor your bank account, credit card statements, and credit reports to look for possible suspicious activity. If you believe you are the victim of tax-related identity theft, report it to the IRS immediately.  IdentityIQ identity protection services can help ensure your accounts and personal information are safe from criminals. We continuously monitor your credit reports, financial accounts, and more to look for fraud. You receive notifications for possible suspicious activity, so you can take action quickly.

Update Contact Information with the IRS

Make sure that the IRS has your most up-to-date contact information so they can reach you. Notify the IRS of any changes to your name, address, and contact information promptly. This helps ensure that mail and correspondence from the IRS isn’t sent to the wrong address, causing it to fall into the wrong hands. The IRS provides instructions for how to update your information on its website.

Report Lost or Stolen IP PIN

Can’t find your IP PIN? You can use the online Get an IP PIN tool to access it. You will need to register and validate your identity with IRS.gov if you don’t already have an online account with the IRS.  If you already have an account, you can log in to retrieve your IP PIN (you may need to verify your identity again).

If you can’t get your IP PIN online, you can try calling the IRS at 800-908-4490 to receive assistance and have your IP PIN reissued to you. A representative will need to verify your identity and mail your IP PIN to your address within three weeks.

If you think that your IP PIN has been compromised or that you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, contact the IRS to report your issue and request assistance. If the IRS issued you an IP PIN that was lost or stolen and you didn’t get a new one in the mail, you’ll need to get a new one before you can file your tax return.

Bottom Line

IP PINs are valuable verification tools that can help prevent fraudulent tax returns filed in your name. The IRS will assign you an IP PIN once they resolve a confirmed case of identity theft for you, but you can also proactively request an IP PIN to avoid future cases of fraud. If you’re wondering “do I get a new IP pin every year?”, rest assured that all taxpayers enrolled in the IP PIN program will receive a new IP PIN annually.

Protecting your IP PIN from criminals is important. Make sure to keep your IP PIN and tax documents private. Look out for phishing attempts and take proactive measures to keep yourself safe online. Check your financial accounts and credit reports regularly. Keep your information updated with the IRS, and report lost or stolen IP PINs immediately.

IdentityIQ identity theft protection services monitor your credit reports, SSN, financial accounts, and more to look out for possible suspicious activity and alert you whenever something happens. If you become a victim of identity theft, we can help you restore your identity through identity restoration services and identity theft insurance, underwritten by AIG With these tools, you receive peace of mind through tax season and beyond.