Editors' pick: Originally published Oct. 18.
If you were one of the 500 million people affected by the Yahoo data breach, you know firsthand that identity theft is everywhere.
According to a recent survey by Bankrate, 41 million adults have had their identities stolen in the U.S., and another 49 million say they know someone who has been affected.
And its not just your email account you have to worry about. It's everything from your bank account to fraudulent voting this election to your tax return.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone steals your Social Security Number (SSN), files a tax return and claims your refund.
And whether the crook stole your SSN off your medical records or took your Form W-2, which reports your wages, right out of your mailbox at taxtime, is irrelevant.
Because you most likely will be completely unaware this has even happened until you try to electronically file your return and it gets rejected because your SSN only be used once.
Even worse, some victims have even gotten letters in the mail asking for more detail on their tax returns they never filed.
And while the IRS actively is cracking down on all this, it's rampant. It's even in the confines of the agency itself. Back in August, an IRS employee was sentenced to nine years and two months in prison for using her access to taxpayer information to lead a complex, multi-year, $1 million stolen identity refund scheme involving hundreds of victims.
And identity theft doesn't just happen at tax time. The truth is, the off-season is when the scammers can catch you unawares.