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4/3/2013 4:31:00 PM
IRS warns tax refund thefts on the rise

You're not the only one waiting for your tax refund.

Scammers are looking for it too. In fact, every year there are more and more scams designed to steal tax refunds.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says these kinds of thefts have increased substantially in the last few years.

Between 2010 and 2012, the number of investigations opened by the IRS grew from 224 to 898, according to the latest figures.

It all starts with identity theft.

Tax refund thefts usually begin when someone steals your personal information, such as your Social Security number.

To get your information, scammers use a technique called phishing, where a scammer tries to fool you into revealing your personal data.

They send you fake email messages or websites pretending to be someone they're not, such as the IRS or the Social Security Administration.

They ask you to provide your personal or financial information such as your Social Security number or your credit card numbers. Once they have the information they need, they file your taxes in your name and wait until they get your refund.

You can protect yourself from this scam by remembering a few things.

• The IRS does not initiate contact via e-mail with issues regarding your tax return.
• Be careful with websites that pretend to be the IRS. The official IRS website is http://www.irs.gov/
• If somebody calls you and says they are an employee of the IRS, take down their employee identification number and call 1-800- 829-1040 to make sure the call is legitimate.
• Don't provide your Social Security number or other personal information to anybody you consider suspicious.

Many taxpayers don't find out they're victims of tax refund scams until they get a letter from the IRS saying their taxes have been filed twice.

If you get such a letter, contact the IRS immediately to try to correct the situation.

You can find out the status of your tax return by visiting the official IRS website. You will be asked to provide personal information such as your Social Security number and the amount of your expected tax return.

If you would like assistance or would like to report identity theft, contact the IRS or call 1-800-908- 4490.

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