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Expecting a tax refund? File early

The Internal Revenue Service started accepting e-filed returns last Tuesday. Yet employers and businesses have until February 1, 2016 to send the tax forms required to complete a return.

This means you may not have started thinking about filling your tax return. But you should, especially if you expect to receive a refund. By filing early, you may be able to thwart any attempt to use your information to obtain a fraudulent tax refund. In this post, we will discuss what the IRS is doing to combat the problem and what you can do.

The Internal Revenue Service has tracked an increase in fraudulent tax refund filings. The Government Accountability Office reported that in 2013, the agency was able to stop $24.2 billion in fraudulent tax return requests. However, it paid out $5.8 billion in refunds that slipped through the security measures.

Working around security measures

To counteract the activity of scammers, the agency monitors "IP" addresses used to file returns and the amount of time spent on a return. These measures flag returns coming in from one Internet "IP" address in rapid succession.

Even as the agency puts in place new security measures, scammers find ways to bypass them. Early filing limits the time that someone else could attempt to claim your refund.

Concerned about suspicious activity - Act fast

A rejected electronic filing request could indicate that someone else has already filed a return with your information. A notice from the IRS with erroneous information is another possible indication of tax return fraud.

Acting quickly is very important. Contact the IRS' Identity Protection Specialized Unit and complete Form 14039.

The agency has added a six-digit identity protection pin for taxpayers as another layer of security. In cases of suspected identity theft, the agency will assign you one to prevent any misuse of your Social Security number.

In addition, remember this tax season that the IRS does not contact taxpayers by email or telephone. The agency will notify you of any audit or back taxes in a written letter sent via the U.S. postal service. 

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