Tax identity theft happens when someone steals your social security number and other information to get a fraudulent refund. There's really no way to know if someone has hacked your information and filed on your behalf either until you go to file yourself. Only one person can file a return for you, so the sooner you do your taxes the better. There are some other ways to keep yourself safe. Here are some tips from the IRS.

  • If you're doing your taxes yourself online, always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Use strong passwords.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card companies and even the IRS. The IRS will never give you a call. If you get a call from the IRS, contact the authorities.
  • Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
  • Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure.
  • Check your mail on a daily basis to avoid tax form theft.
  • File your return as soon as possible.

If you think you've been a victim of tax identity theft, contact your local authorities and the IRS. More information is available on their website.