Here's how you can stop scammers from taking your tax refund

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Tax season is officially here and that means scammers are out to take your money.

Con artists are using social security numbers to file phony tax returns and steal refunds.

Here's how the scam works:

You file your taxes as normal and expect a refund from the IRS.

Instead, you get a written IRS notice stating that more than one tax return was filed using your social security number.

Scammers get a hold of your social security number, address and date of birth.

They file your return early and receive your refund before you even had the chance to file, and you won't know you've been targeted until you file.

Here's how to avoid the scam:

File your taxes early! This is the best way to avoid tax identity theft, and this gives scammers little to no time to use your information.

Watch out for red flags. For example, you may receive a notice of wages from somewhere you've never worked for or notices that don't actually apply to you. Contact the IRS if you have any suspicions.

Protect your social security number. Never give this number out, unless you absolutely have to and you're sure who you're giving it to.

Also, research your tax preparer. Make sure you trust them before handing over your personal information.

If you are a victim you can get an identity protection pin.

Visit irs.gov for more information.

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