ID TheftAt a party this weekend, I spoke with a friend who files taxes in one of the many states that’s been breached by identity thieves. As you might guess, the bad guys grabbed his personal information, filed a 1040 with the IRS, and claimed a refund using bogus information. My friend is diligent about Internet security. But his caution made no difference. Frustrating, right?

Is there a way to prevent identity thieves from filing taxes in your name?

Security experts recommend that taxpayers file early. That’s not much help if you have a complicated tax return. If you find yourself really struggling with this, it might be wise to use an online service like that available with H&R Block. If you do choose to use H&R Block, it’s worth checking a site like Raise to see if there are any discounts available.

If you’re still determined to do it yourself, however, the best solution could be to contact experts like the ones at TaxRise. They might be able to provide consultation services and guide you on how to go about it. If not, I’ve heard that you can file IRS Form 14039. The IRS is supplying six-digit pin numbers to victims of identity theft and, in some cases, to people whose personal information has been compromised. These six-digit pins are then necessary to file taxes.

You can check one of two boxes on Form 14039: “I am a victim of identity theft;” or “I have experienced an event involving my personal information that may at some future time affect my federal tax records.”

“Affect my federal tax records…” That language means you’re worried about your social security number. Given all the breaches at financial institutions and medical insurance companies, the universe of people who can reasonably file a Form 14039 is huge. In any instance where your social security number has been stolen, it is imperative that you report it immediately to a Social Security office in Rhode Island, or the social security office that’s closest to you.

If you file a Form 14039, you are not guaranteed a six-digit pin. The IRS is still rolling out the program. But I see zero downsides in asking for one if you’re genuinely concerned. Here’s a link to Form 14039 for anyone who wants to file. If you have filed a tax refund form and are worried about if you will receive the money and want to know “where’s my refund?” you can contact companies like to discuss this and any other issues you want to talk through.

Any other techniques? Please let me know.