Mar 1, 2013 7:11 PM by Chris Welty
Imagine filing your federal taxes and a message comes back saying you've already filed.
This year alone, the Internal Revenue Service is investigating more than 500 cases of identity theft refund fraud. The IRS is cracking down and has hired three thousand employees to focus solely on identity theft cases.
An Acadiana woman is struggling to rightfully collect her refund.
"This has been a horrific experience."
Charlene Landry is a victim of identity theft tax refund fraud. Last month she tried filing her taxes, but was notified she already did.
"I'm just curious to know how they received my information."
Landry wants her refund, but her main priority is justice. She wants to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.
"It's about doing right and wrong and this is just totally wrong to steal someone's identity," said Landry.
Tax identity theft is easy, all you need is a person's name and social security number. The IRS sees an increase in cases like this during tax season.
"Stealing one's identity is not a seasonal thing, but the use of it may be seasonal."
Michael Dobzinski is the IRS Media Relations Specialist for Louisiana and Florida. He says it's important to know who you're giving your social security number to and to protect your financial information. Also, never carry your social security number in your wallet or purse. This year, the IRS is taking extra precautions to protect filers.
"We've added filters this year that are better at identifying the information on the return so we can stop the refund from being issued to begin with," said Dobzinski.
As for Landry, she says she'll never file taxes online again.
"I'm going to do everything the old fashioned way! Old means better."
If you are a victim of identity theft refund fraud, file a report with your local police department and contact the IRS. Spokesman Michael Dobzinski says to receive your refund, you'll have to sign an affidavit proving you're the rightful owner of your information.
On average it takes the IRS six months to conclude identity theft cases.
It's a crime that could earn thieves anywhere from four to twenty years in jail.