(CBS) — Imagine your tax return is rejected by the IRS because somebody has already filed a fake return in your name. Then the next day, you get a refund.
CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports it happened to a Chicago man.
Like millions of Americans, on Monday Chicagoan Seth Rouse filed his tax returns electronically as he has for 11 years through Turbo Tax.
Somehow, hackers had gotten hold of all his information and filed a fake return before he did.
Rouse says he was the victim of identity theft.
“I feel like I’m on an island, on my own,” he said.
After filing, he got emails from the IRS and the state that his filings were rejected. Somebody using his information had filed already.
Strangely, the next day, he got a refund check from the IRS. The hackers who had already filed in Rouse’s name had apparently forgotten to have it sent to them.
“Somebody screwed up and it sounds like the bad guys screwed up,” said Governors State professor William Kresse.
Kresse is a cybercrime expert who’s known as professor fraud. He says tax refund theft is a growing problem amounting to billions of dollars each year.
“I’m going to buy a paper shredder now, I can tell you that,” Rouse said.
To minimize your chances of cybercrooks robbing you of your refund, Kresse recommends you file early…the earlier the better.