Could thieves have stolen your tax refund?

Don't Waste Your Money

If you're working on your income taxes, we've got a warning for you.

Thieves may have already filed them, taken your refund and you won't know it until you try to file yourself.

Brian Watson says it's a "huge" problem.

He's a special agent in the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.

"They may not physically hurt you or mug you to get the money. You're going through the stress," he says.

He read through a list of people caught by the IRS for stealing refunds.

The worst case involved a person taking $2.2 million in stolen tax money.

On April 8, a woman went on trial for tax fraud.

The IRS accused her of taking thousands in refunds meant for others.

Watson said with a Social Security number and name, thieves can do real damage.

"Sometimes it's the computer sites you go to clicking on links...It could happen by a breach at a store where someone hacks in," he said.

Updating anti-virus software on computers and changing passwords often can help protect you.

Watson said the IRS is adding new filters all the time.

But they can't check every detail on every return because of time limitations.

He said that could delay refunds for months.

"It's the fine line we have to walk in making sure we stop fraud but also making sure refunds are timely," Watson said.

The IRS site has much more information about identity theft.


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