Scam alert: Protect yourself from tax identity theft

Tax season is underway and right now is a good time to make sure you're taking steps to protect yourself from identity thieves.

According to the Better Business Bureau, tax identity theft happens every three seconds, meaning someone uses another person's social security number to file a fake tax return or to get a job.

Many times, victims don't realize what happened until they get a letter from the Internal Revenue Service saying they filed multiple tax returns, or a letter showing they earned income from an employer they don't recognize.

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Having a tax return rejected as a "duplicate filing" could also be a sign that someone else is using your social security number.

"Don't let your social security number end up in the wrong hands, make sure you are holding it close to the vest and not just giving it to anyone," said Alyssa Gutierrez with the BBB.

There are a few simple things you can do to keep your personal information safe:

File tax returns as early as possible: This could prevent someone else from pretending to be you and filing a return

Use a secure connection: If you are filing a tax return online, make sure the internet connection you are using is secure

Take it to the post office: Anyone using a hard copy to file their taxes should take it directly to the post office to send it to the IRS

The Federal Trade Commission has more information on how you can recognize the signs of tax identity theft and what to do if you become a victim on their website.
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