Filing your taxes early may protect against tax identity theft

HARTFORD --  This tax season the experts are warning people to be on alert for tax return thieves, following last year’s Equifax data breech which compromised the identity of roughly 143 million Americans.

The IRS accepts one tax return per social security number, which means you may not realize you were a victim until you go to file your taxes and ger denied.

Consumer protection experts are advising that the earlier you file your taxes, the better.

“It’s really a race, we’re trying to get our tax returns in before criminals do,” said Howard Schwartz, of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau.

He added, “This has been a growing problem for the past four or five years. Income tax fraud and identity theft are one in the same in order to file someone else’s income tax return you need their identity information.”

Schwartz also said that by filing your taxes electronically and requesting direct deposit you are speeding up the process, eliminating time and risk.

The Better Business Bureau also urges to use caution when you choose a tax preparer.

“Know what the red flags are. Stay away from any tax preparer who wants a percentage of your refund or claims that they can get you more money in your refund than the competition,” Schwartz said. He added the cost to have your taxes prepared by a professional will vary and depend on how complicated your taxes are, so it’s best to ask about what extra services fees you’ll be charged upfront.

The IRS also warns they will never call you they will only contact you through the mail. If you receive a threatening phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent it is likely a scam.

Tax season officially began January 29th and will run through April 17th.

For steps you can take if you become a victim of tax identity theft, click here.