CHICAGO (CBS) — The Internal Revenue service has launched a nationwide attack on the problem of identity theft and false filing of tax returns.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Northwestern University law professor and tax specialist Charlotte Crain says the widespread scam is simple – the scammer files a tax return under your name and Social Security number before you do.

“They get there before you do, and when you try to get there, the IRS thinks that you’ve already filed a return,” Crane said.

The IRS says over half the 1.75 million bad tax returns it stopped last year were due to identity theft and false filings.

Crane school says you’ll get your refund eventually if you’re due, but it’s a time-consuming process.

She says the best way to avoid the problem is safeguard your Social Security number, and never respond to calls or emails seeking your Social Security number.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

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