As if taxes aren't stressful enough, now the Better Business Bureau has isued a warning about scammers who are stealing our refund checks.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning that theives are stealing social security numbers and other personal information such as your date of birth and address to file your tax return and collect your refund.

What is extra sneaky about this scam is that you don't know that it has happened until you file your taxes and learn that someone else has beat you to it.

How do scammers do this? There are a few ways; a crooked tax prep service may have sold your information, you may have fallen for a phishing scam at some point, your children's identities may have been stolen or the identity of a deceased person has been stolen.

How to avoid tax ID theft scams:

  • File your taxes early.
  • Watch for red flags such as notices from the IRS that say you've already filed, respond right away.
  • A notice from the IRS saying that you've claimed wages from somewhere that you've never worked or notices that don't apply to you.
  • Contact the IRS about any suspicious return information.
  • Don't give out your social security number unless there is a dang good reason and you completely trust who you are giving it to.
  • Make sure that your tax preparer has a great reputation and can be trusted.
  • Visit IRS.gov to get an Identity Protection Pin which you will have to use to file your federal returns in addition to providing your social security number.
  • Check out BBB Tip On Tax Scams for more info.