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But that's not what's happening. The theft is occurring when someone gets hold of your SSN and files a completely fraudulent return using your name and SSN before you file a legitimate return.

A friend of mine was a victim of a similar scam last year. Someone got their hands on employee data for the local school board. That's right, they targeted public school teachers. They submitted false returns for a bunch of teachers, along with bogus returns claiming refunds. Oh, and changed their address to a new location. All in February, before most people would file. The IRS mailed checks for these refunds.

My friend found out when she tried to file her legitimate return, and it got rejected. When she reported it to police, they were already on the case, just hadn't found all the victims yet. Even after the fraud was communicated and acknowledged by the IRS, it took a full year to get her the refund she was owed.
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