NEW YORK (WABC) --The IRS is seeing an increase of 400% this year in certain kinds of tax ID theft fraud. The IRS says it's stepped up efforts to stop scams, but in 2013 it paid out nearly $6 billion to identify thieves.
Top 7 tips to stop a tax scam:
1. File Early
Since ID Theft is a fact of life, Adam Levin, author of "Swiped" says the strategy for dealing with it is to first minimize risk. And that means filing early. The thieves do.
2. Never leave your personal information on a computer.
If you file online, put your personal information on an encrypted thumb drive. And don't forget where you put the thumb drive.
3. Do not over-share on social media.
That means do not share your favorite color, your dog's name, the street you grew up on, and, in some cases your maiden name.
4. Protect your mail
Scammers can target your mailbox, both physical and virtual ones.
5. Monitor your credit regularly.
If you are victimized, those who catch it quick will be much better off. If you miss something and your return gets Swiped you may kiss your money goodbye.
6. Remember the IRS doesn't email or call you.
Watch out for scammers who call/email, threaten you, asking you to wire them money.
7. Be aware of turnaround times.
If you file by mail it generally takes 6 weeks for a refund to arrive, 21 days if you file electronically. If your refund is late alert the IRS immediately to make sure it didn't get diverted.