(NEW YORK) — With the start of the tax filing season just around the corner, the IRS is on alert for rising cases of identity theft and tax fraud.
Many taxpayers can become victims if they are not very careful about protecting their personal information. In some cases, thieves grab W2 forms and other financial documents from mailboxes.
“The problem is there’s way too much information about us floating around out there,” says Adam Levin, CEO of the security firm Identity Theft 911.
He says thieves have posed as tax accountants.
“They will take the name as a store front of a well known tax preparation company set up shop for a few days,” Levin explains. People will then go in to get their taxes done and “all of a sudden the store disappears,” along with taxpayers’ personal information.
The IRS is well aware of the problem.
“If you think you have been the victim of identity theft and your refund has been affected, contact the IRS,” says spokesman Eric Smith. “We have a process for handling that.”
Levin says the number of cases of taxpayer identity theft reported to his firm has soared 800 percent since 2008.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN