Identity Thefts Spike as Tax Season Nears Final Weeks
Updated: Sunday, March 31 2013, 12:51 AM EDT
COLUMBUS -- As taxpayers near the final weeks to file their 1040's, investigators with the IRS grapple with a growing problem: identity theft and fraud.
"We filed our taxes but when we got home we got a phone call," Danney Hayes said.
Hayes and his wife are a pair of hundreds fighting identity theft and tax fraud. The phone call he received was from the IRS telling him his return was rejected because he already filed for the 2012 tax year.
"How could I have already filed?" He asked.
It's a question many are asking this time of year. In 2010, the IRS investigated around 200 cases of identity theft. The numbers went slightly up in 2011, to around 300 cases. 2012 however, saw a huge spike in criminal activity; nearly 900 cases of ID theft.
"It tears your budget up," Hayes said. "It's tough enough to make it nowadays so that really hurt."
The refund check Hayes and many other victims were looking forward to is suddenly gone and it could take up to six months to finally get that cash back to the right bank account.
However, there are steps you can take to avoid this fate:
File your taxes early and don't give out your personal information over any electronic media. The IRS does not communicate via e-mail, text message or social media. If you receive any material over electronic media asking for personal information such as your social security number, the IRS suggests reporting it to their investigators directly.
Reporter: Shawn Kline