Identity thieves take aim at tax returns -

Identity thieves take aim at tax returns

The Internet made filing taxes a lot easier for many people, but it's also made life a lot easier for con artists.

The IRS says more than 400,000 Americans were the victims of identity theft tax fraud between 2009 and 2011. That's when crooks get hold of living or dead people's names and social security numbers to generate fake returns, then collect the refunds.

The IRS is catching some of the action.

Agents stopped more than 260,000 fake returns from being processed last year. That kept $1.5 billion dollars out of criminals' hands. But that number was five times higher than just the year before!

So how are the bad guys getting the social security numbers?

"Well, some of them come from stolen purses or wallets. Some of the numbers come from emails or phone calls to unsuspecting victims who offer up their numbers themselves," says Money Expert Nathan Bachrach.

Until recently, thieves were also using genealogy sites like to find social security numbers of recently deceased people. The site has since stopped showing numbers for anyone who has died in the past decade.

The frightening thing is, you may not even know someone swiped your number until you get a letter from the IRS saying two returns were filed using your information.

If you get one of those letters, call the IRS right away.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved. 

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