The IRS yesterday identified 389 identity theft suspects from 32 different states in what they are calling a national crackdown. Of the 389 they identified, they arrested 109 during the sweep.

“As tax season begins this year, we want to be clear that there is a heavy price to pay for perpetrators of refund fraud and identity theft,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller in a release. “We have aggressively stepped up our efforts to pursue and prevent refund fraud and identity theft, and we will continue to intensely focus on this area. This is part of a much wider effort underway for the 2013 tax season to stop fraud.”

Tax season is a busy time for identity thieves as many of them will pose as the IRS to gain access to your personal information. Here are some key clues to help you avoid having your identity stolen:

  • If a website claims to be run by the IRS but does not start with www.irs.gov, then it is probably a fraudulent site.
  • If you receive an email from the IRS asking for personal information or claiming that you are being audited, don't give them any information. The IRS does not use email or social media to get personal information from taxpayers.
  • If you get a letter from the IRS that says that more than one tax return has been filed in your name, it probably means you have been a victim of identity theft. Contact the IRS immediately if this happens.
  • If you have any doubt that a website, email or phone call is actually from the IRS, it's always a smart idea to contact the IRS directly and make sure. You can forward any unusual or suspicious emails or websites to phishing@irs.gov.

If you want extra protection to help avoid identity theft, check out an identity theft protection service. We review the top services here.

Identity Theft Protection, Tax Preparation