It’s only February, and already this tax season has seen its share of tax identity theft issues. On Friday TurboTax shut down access to state tax return filing after the company found what it called “an increase in suspicious filings.”

Identity theft is a growing problem for the American taxpayer. Recently, the Internal Revenue Service revealed that it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in 2013.


Tax offices use security measures

Consumers are right to be wary, and those looking for more security when filing their taxes may want to head to an income tax preparer’s office. In these days of data breaches and hacking, nothing is 100-percent safe, but face-to-face interaction is a secure way to prepare tax returns. Security measures, such as checking photo identification, are performed in tax offices but are not available for online tax filings.

If you’re not sure how to choose tax preparation services, you can find tips here. Also, the IRS recently launched an online directory to help taxpayers find credentialed tax preparers.

It’s also wise to file early in an attempt to thwart identity thieves. Those who steal personal information try to beat the real taxpayers to the IRS, so they tend to file fraudulent returns well ahead of the April 15 deadline to file taxes.