IRS tackling rise in identity theft cases

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI)- The Internal Revenue Service is dealing with a growing problem of scammers, stealing your identity.   Attempts have been made to curb the increase.  And the federal tax agency is trying to get ahead of the scammers.    Typically the taxpayer doesn`t even know, that all important, Social Security number is in the hands of crooks until they file their return electronically.  And he has yet to receive his refund.  Susan Doerge just learned she`d been hit last week.  'First of all shock and anger, very mad.  It`s like you hear of this happening all the time, but when it happens to you, you`re like who are these people.'

That`s the same question the I-R-S is asking.  It`s estimated the thieves have collected nearly 5 billion dollars in fraudulent refunds.   At least 1500 cases were investigated by federal authorities in 2013. In Doerge`s case, she wonders if her health care insurance carrier may have opened the door.  She`s a victim of the anthem blue cross blue shield data breach announced last week. "Maybe they had already had my social security number or maybe they got it through being a member of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield."

Andrew Elia filed his 2013 return one year ago this month.  It was rejected.  He filed the necessary affidavit confirming he is who says he is. He also filed a paper return per I-R-S procedure.  Weeks pass and nothing.  After many phone calls he finally learns that it's been released and has to wait for a refund date.  It's February again and still nothing according to Elia. "They don`t give you anything but the automated phone number and they`re not picking up the phone."

Andrew says the private industry doesn't operate this way.  'If this was any business, your local utility, or somebody you bought a phone or a TV from...every single one of them has a customer service number. '

Doerge wonders if the scammers will ever be found.  'I hope they find these people.  The chances of that happening are slim.  It`s just a new culture all together.  It`s a new problem that we`re all going to face.'

If this happens to you, contact your local police, the IRS, the Credit Reporting Bureaus, The Federal Trade Commission and your bank.