SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Tax season is here, and if you’re looking forward to a tax refund, you will want to make sure that refund stays safe from thieves. 22News is working for you with ways to prevent tax return identity theft.

It’s important to be mindful online before giving out your financial or personal information. Tax-return identity theft almost always involves a stolen social security number.

The thief will use your stolen social security number to file a fraudulent tax return, and then pockets the refund, but there are things you can do to help prevent tax identity theft. Keep that information private and protected by leaving your social security card at home.

Be wary of providing personal information over the phone or through the mail. For those filing taxes online, it’s important to protect against computer spam and viruses.

Take advantage of the security software updates your computer may offer and make it a habit to use a firewall, anti-spam, and anti-virus software. So when it comes to filing your taxes, financial experts advise people to proceed with caution to protect their personal information.

When does the IRS start accepting tax returns?

IRS begins the 2023 tax season and starts accepting and processing individual 2022 tax returns on January 23rd.