COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — With tax season right around the corner filers are being urged to avoid being taken advantage of by scammers.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) and the South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) said tax fraud was the number one contributor to identity theft in 2021. The agencies say the most common form of tax fraud is when a scammer files using someone else’s social security number.

The agencies laid out the following tips to help you avoid being a victim of tax fraud this upcoming tax season:

  • Look out for IRS and tax imposter scams: The agencies said scammers will pose as the IRS or SCDOR to illicit personal information or ask for money. The IRS will always send a notice via mail first before calling tax filers. The agencies urge residents to report IRS scams to the Treasury Department.
  • File your taxes early: The agencies urge you to file as soon as possible, with the window to file opening Jan. 24. The longer you wait, the more likely it is for scammers to file fraudulent tax returns and steal refunds, the agencies said.
  • File online safely: The agencies suggest using anti-virus software and a secure internet connection — not public wifi — when filling online. They also urge filers to use unique passwords and multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Take advantage of the following websites IRS Free File program and the options from the SCDOR that allow certain taxpayers to file for free.
  • An Identity Protection PIN: A free layer of protection is offered to taxpayers who verify their identities. The IRS IP PIN program is a six-digit code known only to the filer and IRS. To sign up for the pin, click or tap here.
  • Use an authentic tax preparer: Filers should make sure their tax preparer is authentic, licensed and has a IRS issued Preparer Tax Identification Number. To see if you are eligable for free tax prep services visit the IRS’ website or call 800-906-9887.
  • Comply with IRS, SCDOR identity verifications: SCDOR has implemented security measures to prevent scammers from using filer’s information to file false returns and steal refunds. Filers might receive a letter from the SCDOR asking you to visit MyDORWAY to complete verifications after filing your return. 

If you think you’ve been a victim of tax fraud, SCDOR urges you to visit dor.sc.gov/taxfraud.