Woman's Identity Stolen, Used In IRS Scam


By Matthew Searcy

FRANKLIN COUNTY --  A Franklin County woman got the shock of her life last week after getting a call from the IRS. Her identity had been stolen and the thief had filed a joint tax return with her name on it.

It's not as uncommon as you'd think.  The IRS says identity theft crimes are at an all-time high. Nearly 1,500 cases were reported last year, an increase of 66% from 2012.
Orient Shirley Murray is now another number on that list. She claims her identity was stolen and used in a recent IRS claim.
"I didn't know whether to pass out or cry," said Murray. "He actually had filed a claim for a refund, which he had no legal right to do."
The thief used Murray's social security number and address, an unsettling invasion of privacy.
"He knows everything about me and I don't even know who he is," she explained. 
The thief would have received a rebate from the IRS, but failed to include a birth date. As a result, the IRS contacted Murray in a letter asking for her birth date. That's how she became aware of the situation. She says she has no idea how her identity was stolen. 
"They hack in somehow, either through a bank loan or a finance company, medical records," explained Murray.  
The IRS and Federal Trade Commission are both looking into who may have filed the claim. 
An IRS spokesperson denied an interview because of privacy issues, but released this statement:
"Refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS. We are focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible."
Murray says she wants to share her story to help teach others about the dangers of identity theft.  
"I just wanted people to know that this is going on, and people need to watch out and protect themselves a lot more. I thought I was protected and I am not. If I'm not, nobody is."
Local IRS agents say this type of refund scam is the second incident reported in southern Illinois this year. 
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