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Identity Theft Rising Again, Just In Time for Tax Season

More taxpayers are falling victim to identity theft. A federal report says 2.5 million tax-filers had their identities stolen and their tax refunds delayed in 2013.

That’s double the number of people affected the previous year.


You find out you’ve been hacked when the IRS rejects your tax return. It says: you can’t have your refund because someone else already claimed it.

A report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration says it’s a mess that takes an average of 278 days to fix.

Imagine what that’s like for an immigrant family in King County who goes to the United Way for tax filing help.

Yuri Kim manages that program. And he said it’s hard for people to understand what’s happened and how to fix it.  

Kim: “They’re low to moderate-income families who rely on the tax refunds to get by.”

Kim said it happened to a family he met just the other week.

Bob Ferguson, Washington's attorney general: “I’m not at all surprised at all to hear that. We hear that all the time in my office, so it’s a serious concern. “

Tax return identity theft is one of the reasons he’s introduced a bill that would require faster notification when there are security breaches that can lead to identity theft.

Like the one that was revealed last month. Premera Blue Cross announced that millions of its Washington customers had their records exposed in a cyberattack, including social security numbers.

It said the data breach started last year, but it was not reported to the public until March.

Ferguson: “And that’s why it’s so critical that folks get notified right away and that’s what our legislation does.”

That would give people a chance to warn the IRS and the credit bureaus about the potential problem. So people can get the refunds they’ve been counting on.