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KUSA - If you don't take important steps when filing your taxes this year, the Internal Revenue Service says you could spend all summer trying to regain your identity.

Thieves are stealing refunds at a rate thirteen times what they stole just five years ago, according to a Government Accountability Office Report.

The key advice, according to tax experts, is to file early so you can catch any abnormalities and prevent damage if thieves actually try to steal your identity and cash your refund.

"The three pieces of information they need for the IRS computers are name, Social Security number and date of birth," said Richard Rothman, a tax accountant with Bloch, Rothman and Associates.

The latest Government Accountability Office report shows the IRS identified 47,730 tax-related identity thefts nationwide in 2008.

There were 641,690 incidents of ID theft in the first nine months of 2012, according to the report.

"It happens a lot with children," said Mira Finé, a tax partner at Hein and Associates in Denver. "You think of that 16-year-old child that has their first job and they file on their tax return and they didn't realize that somebody has had their Social Security number for 16 years of their life."

Experts says thieves, find new ways every year to steal identities. They'll grab a Social Security number, a name, a date of birth and direct hundreds of returns to one address.

When IRS agents catch on, thieves just change the address.

"You try and not give out your own Social Security number. It's that traditional kind of way that you protect your own identity," Finé said.

Experts also say to file your taxes soon, before you give thieves too much time to steal a refund. They also say it's vital to cross-check your Social Security Earnings record.

That's the record you would get in the mail every year from the Social Security Administration. Those statements are no longer mailed, and are now available online at ssa.gov.

They say you should also request one for your kids, as well, to see if someone else has made up a W-2 in their name, and filed to get a tax return.

You can find more tips from the IRS here.

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