Many people are aware of the dangers of identity theft but may not realize how quickly it is growing or the numerous areas in which it can occur. Did you know, for example, that identity theft reports to the Federal Trade Commission jumped by nearly 50 percent in 2015, to almost half a million claims? Here’s another surprising statistic: Tax refund fraud is considered the biggest and fastest-growing kind of identity theft. If you’re not sure how to respond to or protect against tax identity theft, the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants offers some timely answers:

Don’t fall for phishing.

Be wary if you get a call, email, text or other message from the IRS asking you to supply your Social Security number, bank or investment account details or other personal or confidential information. The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information. Further, they do not call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests. If you experience any of these situations, it’s almost certain you’re dealing with an identity thief. Don’t reply to the message or click on any links within it. If you suspect phishing, which happens when identity thieves send you a communication that tries to trick you into revealing confidential information, report it to the IRS and forward any emails to