Tax season is here and so are criminals who want to steal your identity. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone misuses your Social Security number to file a tax return or to report earnings. Warning signs of misuse of your Social Security number include learning that a tax return has already been filed using your Social Security number, that you owe additional taxes, that your refund has been offset to pay other liabilities, or that you earned wages or self-employment income from an employer for whom you did not perform work.

If you become a victim of identity theft, it is important to complete IRS Form 14039. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov, alert your financial institutions, and contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on credit reports.

In an ongoing effort to thwart identity theft, some commercial tax preparation software manufacturers have established new log-on standards. You should also know that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by sending e-mails. In addition, the IRS will not call you and threaten to have you arrested for not paying taxes, nor will the IRS call you and solicit payment by credit card, debit card, or wire transfer. If you receive a suspicious e-mail or call from someone purporting to be with the IRS, file a report. For e-mail issues write to [email protected]. For phone, fax, or mail phishing, call 1-800-366-4484.