Scammers and thieves out in force during tax season

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 23, 2015) - Tax season is back and so are the scammers and thieves that come with it.  The FBI has an urgent warning to be on the lookout.

Thieves are on the prowl, looking to steal your most valuable financial information.

"I had some mail stolen out of my mailbox,” said Brandon Barnhart.  Barnhart lost thousands of dollars after someone stole his credit card statement from his mailbox.

"I always get my mail everyday but somehow between 8 and 5, somebody came along and got that piece. I felt victimized,” he said.

"They said that we had to pay $8,000,” said Mickey Carr.  Carr and her husband were victims of a nation-wide IRS scam, wherein thieves claim you owe the agency thousands of dollars.  The caller demands that you pay up, or go to jail.

The couple wound up paying $2,000, "He stayed on the line talking to us while we went to the bank and got the money out,” said Carr.

"As tax time approaches over the next eight or nine weeks, we'll be getting a lot of calls like this,” said Tim Maniscalo, President of the Central Indiana Better Business Bureau.

Maniscalo said thieves are busiest seeking their next victims, during tax season.

Whether you file your taxes the old fashioned way, or online, all the forms that are required of you, your W-2, your 1099, your social security number, your bank statement, your pin number; they're all on there, just waiting to be taken.

There are some tips though to avoid falling victim. The IRS says the sooner you file the better.  Be sure to beat the thieves to the punch, you're a lot less likely to be a victim if you file early. Also, never file on public internet.  Always use a secure, closed connection.  Finally, never store paperwork on your computer; it can be hacked easier than you think.

Also, closely monitor your bank and credit card account activity, that way you know if there are any fraudulent charges. The FBI is also warning, pick up your mail immediately and don't give thieves the opportunity to beat you to your own mailbox.

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