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Tax season is just getting underway. While some of us may put off filing our returns, the procrastinators don’t include tax identity thieves. They’re geared up and ready to file. Unfortunately, they may be ready to file to get your tax refund.

Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number (SSN) to file a fraudulent tax return and claim your refund. You may not find out it has happened until you try to file your real return and the IRS rejects it as a duplicate. While the IRS investigates, your tax refund can be seriously delayed.

How can you thwart tax identity theft? One of the best ways is by filing as early as possible, beating a criminal to it. This may be especially important if your personal information has been exposed, possibly in a data breach or a past incident of identity theft.

Government imposter scammers are close cousins of tax identity thieves. They pretend they’re calling from the IRS or another government agency, generally claiming you owe the government money. They threaten you with arrest or other bad consequences unless you pay them right away, usually with a gift card or prepaid debit card. If you do, the money will be gone. Sometimes they’ll ask you to “confirm” your identity by giving them your SSN. They’re looking for information they can use for identity theft.

How can you protect yourself? The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is joining up with the  Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to mark Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, February 3-7. Join experts from the ITRC and FTC for two free 30-minute webinars focused on tax identity theft and government imposter scams.

Questions? Join experts from the ITRC, FTC, and others for an #IDTheftChat on Twitter on Thursday, February 6 at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT.

We’ll offer tips for protecting yourself and respond to questions. To join the conversation, search for the #IDTheftChat hashtag on Twitter. Be sure to add the #IDTheftChat hashtag to the end of all your comments to be a part of the discussion.

For information about other Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week events, visit

 Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.