ID thieves find a new way to make money — your tax return

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ID thieves find a new way to make money — your tax return

The Plain Dealer – When he couldn’t e-file his taxes online in February, a Bay Village man figured it was a glitch and sent them off by mail.

But when he called last Friday to check on his refund, he discovered the real reason he couldn’t e-file: Someone using his name and Social Security number had done it first.

“When this happens to you, you just sort of panic. What do you do?” said the 75-year-old, who asked that his name not be used.

Identity theft-related tax refund fraud more than doubled between 2008 and 2011.

Of the 2.1 million returns the Internal Revenue Service flagged as fraudulent last year, 938,664 were the result of identity theft, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the office that audits the IRS’ performance.

Identity thieves tried to claim about $6.5 billion in refunds, according to the inspector general.

Thieves use the speedy e-filing system to claim inflated refunds before victimized taxpayers can file.

“All they need is your name and Social Security number. All the rest they just make up,” said Bay Village Detective Mark Spaetzel.

Not only does the crime fraudulently siphon money from federal and state coffers, it blocks the real taxpayers from having their returns processed and delays legitimate refunds.

Mike Bucalo said he was still waiting for his $788 refund after discovering last month that an identity thief filed a return in his name.

Like other victims, the Akron resident first suspected a problem when tried to e-file and got a pop-up message that said he couldn’t file taxes using the same Social Security number more than once in the same year.

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