What you need to know about identity theft and your taxes

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Tax season has just begun and a warning tonight from tax experts, about a common crime that can impact your personal identity.

22News is working for you on how to make sure you avoid tax-related identity theft. Tax-related identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit tax fraud.

According to the IRS, tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. The IRS says if you do suspect you are a victim of identity theft, continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must file a paper return.

Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if:

•IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
•You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
•You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.

“It’s always better to file your return early because that will help ensure that your social security number has a tax return number that matches that,” said Ray Maagaro, Franchisee of Liberty Tax. “There could be a situation where you file your tax return and the IRS sends a notice back to you saying the return has already been filed for this social security number.”

There are steps you can take to protect yourself:
•All taxpayers can receive a 6-digit IRS identity protection PIN…which can be used for both electronic and paper returns.
•If you do your own taxes online…the IRS strongly encourages using multi-factor authentication.
•And don’t forget to create strong passwords and be aware of phishing emails.