We are now one month into the federal income tax filing season, and the Better Business Bureau reports some people who file now find an unwelcome surprise — someone else already has under their name and Social Security number. The best way to avoid this is to take all the recommended precautions to protect the privacy of your social security number and other person information all year. WLNI’s Evan Jones has more:

02-28 Tax Scam Wrap-WLNI-WEB

From the Better Business Bureau:

The United States’ tax season is here, and so are the scammers.

How the Scam Works

You file your taxes as normal and expect a refund from the IRS. Instead, you get a written IRS notice saying that more than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number.

What happened? Scammers got ahold of your personal information, such as your Social Security number, address, and birth date. They filed your return early and received your refund before you even got around to filing. Tax ID theft is a particularly sneaky con because victims typically don’t realize they’ve been targeted until they try to file their taxes for real.

Scammers steal your tax information in several ways. You may have fallen for a phishing scam at an earlier time, used a corrupt tax preparation service, or had your information exposed in a hack or data breach. Sometimes tax scammers file in the name of a deceased person or steal children’s identities to claim them as dependents.

How to Avoid Tax ID Theft Scams:

For More Information

For more information about tax scams check out our BBB Tip on Tax Scams.

If you are the victim of tax identity theft in the U.S., contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. The FTC also offers a personalized identity theft recovery plan at identitytheft.gov.

If you’ve been targeted by this or another scam, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience to BBB.org/ScamTracker.