During tax season authorities see an increased number of identity thefts especially surrounding returns.
Police say other than your typical identity theft precautions; it's hard to protect yourself.
News 4's met with one Wiregrass woman who's dealing with her identity being stolen first hand.
Since the victim has had her identity stolen, she wanted to remain anonymous but says it was important to her to let others know they should keep their eyes open and take every possible precaution to protect themselves.
“We had a really bad year. My husband has been out of work, we had a death in the family, we had our only vehicle totaled, we were kind of depending on this to kind of get us back on our feet,” says the victim.
But when she went to file this year's income taxes she got another difficult surprise.
“The IRS rejected my return saying I had already filed,” says the victim, “They used a child for a dependent and got $3,000 dollars back.”
“Now I have to go into my credit reports to make sure they not only stolen my identity but make sure they have not also gotten a hold of my credit and put things on credit cards,” says the victim.
She’s not the only victim IRS officials say there are three red flags to look out for.
The first is if someone has already filed using your social security number.
“If you get a letter from the IRS stating that somebody has used your social security number,” says IRS media specialist Dan Boone, “Or if you get indication from the IRS that you have received wages from an employer that you've never heard of.”
If this happens to you, file a report at your local police department and a fraud affidavit with the IRS.
“If you get a letter from the IRS simply respond to the number that’s on that notice. If not then call the IRS toll free at 1800-829-1040 or visit an IRS office and let us know what’s going on,” says Boone.
“After I dried my tears I went to the local IRS office and had to file an affidavit with them and they filed the tax return free and sent it in for me telling me it was going to take a long time to get it,” says the victim.
Police say one way to protect yourself is to keep a watchful eye for sensitive documents like W-2's coming to you in the mail.
“It is typical for most places to mail those no later than January 31st. So within these first two weeks of February if you are looking through your checklist of things you normally gather during tax season and find that you're missing certain things that you're expecting, make phone calls on those things, track them down, see if it's a delay or something you need to be a little bit concerned about,” says Corporal Rachel David with Dothan Police.
A warning this victim hopes everyone will heed.
“I wasn't the only one. This was happening to a lot of people,” says the victim.
Police and IRS officials say to use the same identity theft protections you use throughout the year.
“Shred what we would call junk mail if you get mail that’s a credit card offer, things of those natures certainly take the time to shred those items, don’t just dispose of them,” says Cpl. David.
If you get an email from the IRS, do not respond. The IRS will never email you for information.
The IRS has a lot more information about how to identify a tax scam and report it.
Those links are listed below.