Kim Komando shares some important tips to safeguard your tax refund as almost $6 billion was stolen by fraudsters last year

Along with tax season comes a frighteningly easy form of identity theft that can cause you a heap of trouble. Thieves with just a little information about you can file a bogus tax return in your name and claim a huge refund. While it doesn’t always work out so well for the fraudster, the IRS still gives out billions each year in fraudulent refunds. In 2014, for example, it paid out $5.8 billion that it shouldn’t have, and that’s just the fraud it identified. Unfortunately, this year that could be your money.

Your Social Security number is THE key piece of information a scammer needs to file a bogus return on your account. To keep it safe:

* Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep your Social Security card and any other document that shows your Social Security number in a safe place. Learn the five steps to survive a lost or stolen wallet.

* Only share your Social Security number when absolutely necessary. For instance, though a doctor’s office will often request your Social Security number, rarely are you actually required to provide it. Learn more about that and other things you need to know before your next doctor’s visit.

* Safeguard your personal financial information in your home and on your computer. Change online passwords regularly. Check out our tip for making safe and secure passwords.

* Review your credit reports and your Social Security Administration earnings statement each year for accuracy. Check out your credit report and score for free. A big unexpected change in your credit score might mean a thief has struck.