Tax time is around the corner, and the Internal Revenue Service says it has seen a "huge spike" in cases of identity theft.
IRS special agent Brian Watson says people are stealing social security numbers and other identifiers from people, filing returns and claiming the refund. Watson says most people don't find out they've been a victim of fraud until they go to file their own return.
The IRS urges caution, suggesting people not give out their social security number unless absolutely necessary. Watson says the IRS will never send an email to get in touch, instead the IRS will send a letter. If you get an email from the IRS, don't open it as Watson says it is scam.
"We've increased the number of investigations, criminally, but we also have fraud detection centers, actually they're called scheme detection centers, throughout the country," Watson said. " They've put more and more filters in place to stop these returns before they go out. A lot of it is stopped before it happens, but some of it gets through."
If you become a victim of identity theft, contact the IRS immediately. You will have to fill out an identity theft affidavit, but the IRS says you will get your money back after a delay.
For information on taxes, where to file and to see whether you qualify for free help, visit the following links:
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