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IRS Stopped $50 Billion in Tax Refund Fraud

In fiscal year 2013, the Internal Revenue Service started more than 1,400 identity

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theft investigations, leading to twice as many indictments and sentences than in the previous year. The average prison term for such cases was a little longer than three years, and the longest was 26 years.

The BurglarIn a recent review of its identity-theft prevention measures, the IRS said it has stopped 14.6 million suspicious tax returns from being processed since 2011, as of November 2013, keeping $50 billion in refunds from being fraudulently dispersed.

For fiscal year 2014, ending in September, the IRS is expanding its efforts to fight identity theft. The IRS will give more than 1.2 million taxpayers an Identity Protection PIN, a unique six-digit number issued to identity theft victims so they do not encounter problems when filing taxes; assign more employees to help identity theft victims (current case resolution takes about 180 days, and the IRS wants to shorten that time frame); give more options for identity theft victims to get help; and provide more information on IRS.gov.

Oftentimes, consumers don’t know they’ve been a victim of tax-related identity theft until they go to file their tax return, only to find someone else has already used their personal information to do so.

The IRS has assigned more than 3,000 employees to focus on identity theft issues, but it’s still up to you to do your best to protect yourself.

Original story on Credit.