Security experts are urging everyone to file their taxes before scammers file for you.
Experts say that the risk of tax fraud may be higher this tax season following the massive Equifax data breach just months ago.
Over the summer, credit report company Equifax announced that a security breach exposed highly sensitive information about 145.5 million Americans. The stolen information included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses. It's that information that thieves will use to file fake tax returns under your name.
If scammers don't already have your information, they'll try to get it through e-mail or phone calls. The Better Business Bureau says scammers will pose as IRS agents, claiming that you owe money or risk arrest.
In the last three years, more than 10,000 Americans have fallen victim to these tax-related scams, losing a collective $54 million, according to the IRS.
To avoid this, experts say it's best to file early. They say once you've filed, it is nearly impossible for scammers to submit a fraudulent claim.
Tax preparers say the first sign of fraud is typically when the IRS rejects a tax return because a return with the same information has already been filed. If this happens to you, contact your bank, credit bureau and report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also file an Identity Theft Affidavit.
The IRS reminds that they will generally mail you a bill if you owe any taxes and that they would never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
For more information on how to protect yourself against tax-related scams, click here.