A spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service says that agency is hearing a lot of reports about taxpayer identity theft this year.

Karen Connelly says one problem with ID theft is that there is no quick fix once you are victimized, so it's important to protect yourself ahead of time. In some cases people will use personal information to file a return in someone else's name and collect the refund.

One of the best and simplest steps to protect yourself from identity theft is to be very skeptical about people who want your Social Security number.

Do not hand out a social security number unless it is absolutely necessary, or before verifying the requesting party is a legitimate business. Connelly says you should similarly guard personal financial information, including bank accounts and credit card numbers.

Another avenue identity thieves use to get personal information is by hacking into personal computers. Never click on unknown links and disregard emails purporting to be from the IRS unless they have already contacted you by regular mail.