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Filing taxes early and electronically best to avoid tax fraud

Filing taxes early and electronically best to avoid tax fraud

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AMARILLO, TX - Income tax season is here and it may be in your best interest to file early and electronically for more reasons than one.

Right now the IRS has more employees and more technology working to prevent identity theft and tax fraud. But while there are increased safeguards, there are also increased risks. "I think the best way to go is to file electronically, and file as soon as you're able," Amarillo CPS Samuel Lovelady said.

Lovelady that's always the case, but it's more important this year. Widespread data breaches, including those of Target and Neiman Marcus, have comprised financial information for millions of Americans. "Ultimately it's going to create more problems on a tax fraud standpoint," he said.

Fraudulent returns collected by crooks have been on the rise, with more than $3 billion stolen since 2011. The IRS is combating the growing risk of identity theft and tax fraud by adding 3,000 employees to the job. The agency reports halting more than $50 billion in recent years from going to criminal's wallets, but protecting yourself is just as important.

The most important way to protect yourself is by protecting your social security number. "Don't give it out unless there's a good reason for it," Lovelady said.

Also, keep in mind the IRS only sends correspondence through the snail mail.  "They won't call and ask for your social security number. They already have it," Lovelady said.

Lovelady also suggests checking your credit report annually. If you believe you could be victim of tax fraud, you can alert the IRS by filling out a form 14039, which can be found on their website.

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