When Becky Wittrock tried to file her taxes in March 2015, she was told there was already a return filed in her name the month before. The South Dakotan was just one of a surging number of Americans to fall victim to a scam in which fraudsters try to steal other people's tax refunds by filing phony, inflated returns on their behalf.
But this year was supposed to be different: In January, the IRS mailed Wittrock — along with 2.7 million other taxpayers — a six-digit Identity Protection (or IP) PIN that she was supposed to use to ensure that only she could electronically file on her own behalf.
"Honestly, I felt very secure I would be able to file my return without any problems," she said.
But when Wittrock tried to file her taxes last weekend, there were problems: On Monday, the IRS helpline told her that someone had filed a return using her IP PIN on Feb. 2, she said.
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