8 on Your Side: Tax Return Mix-Up Uncovers ID Theft - 8 News NOW

8 on Your Side: Tax Return Mix-Up Uncovers ID Theft

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LAS VEGAS - The Internal Revenue Service rejects many income tax returns for various reasons. It happened to one Las Vegas woman. When she turned to 8 on Your Side for help, she uncovered a bigger problem.

The IRS typically rejects income tax returns for common errors such as a misspelled name or incorrectly typed number. If an error occurs, and the return was filed electronically, the preparer is notified. They make the correction, and life returns to normal.

In Melody Jacobs' case, life didn't return to normal. In 2009, she says she filed an income tax return at Jackson Hewitt.

She claims her preparer never informed her that the IRS rejected her return. She thought everything was fine.

Some time later, Jacobs began receiving letters from the IRS. So, she kept sending the agency her tax return.

Jacobs eventually found out why the IRS rejected her tax return. Someone else filed, using her Social Security number. She was a victim of identity theft and claims she never knew it.

This is a common problem. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 43 percent of all identity theft complaints in 2012 were tax related.

Jacobs turned to the IRS for help, but she says the agency did little to solve the problem.

"It is very frustrating, because you can't get a hold of the IRS," she said. "When you finally do, you just get a generic answer."

Angry and confused, she turned to 8 on Your Side, which helped another couple with this problem in 2012. Tulia and Vito Lonardo discovered someone stole Vito's Social Security number, filed a return in his name and collected their refund. It took them more than a year to get their money back.

If you run into a similar problem, there are steps you can take. The IRS website provides online forms and phone numbers to start the process.

8 on Your Side conveyed that information to Jacobs, who began the promise of solving the problem with her 2009 and subsequent returns. Unfortunately, it is a lengthy process.

If you receive a similar letter from the IRS, notify your tax preparer immediately. Do not try and handle the problem on your own. Always ask your preparer if everything went through correctly. If there is a problem, they will be the first to know.

Some of the people who commit these identity theft tax crimes get caught. The IRS caught one of its employees who stole more than 68 identities and claimed more than $1.7 million in refunds that didn't belong to her. Her name is Monica Hernandez, and she worked for the IRS in Fresno, California. She now faces up to 38 years in prison.

You can start filing your 2014 returns January 31st. The IRS is not processing any returns prior to that date. If you've already prepared a tax return, it won't be filled until January 31st.

If you have a problem you want investigated, call 8 on Your Side at 702-650-1907.

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